Godspeed to a hero of three wars, my cousin Lt. William Paul Rowe

A couple of months ago, I was honored to spend about 25 minutes visiting by phone with Bill Rowe in Findlay, Ohio, a birth family cousin who’s lived a heroic and fulfilling life of 94 years. We talked about his military service as a 17-year-old in the latter days of World War II as well as the Korean and Vietnam wars — Bill served a total of 20 years in the Army — and about a few other momentous periods in his life. We covered as much as we could cram into such a short time, and I recorded our conversation for posterity.

Baby William “Bill” Rowe, held by brother Gordon, with sisters Evelyn (left) and Betty, who has her arm around brother Robert “Bob.”

It was the first time I’d talked to Bill since we met in 2012 at a family gathering in Muncie, Indiana, which my sister, Terry, and I drove six hours to reach during a visit in our hometown of Huntington, West Virginia. After Bill and I talked in December, it was my honor to write a post about him on this blog, paying tribute to a great man who loved his family and country with a resounding passion.

Just six weeks after we spoke, on Jan. 25, Bill joined his beloved Marylou in heaven. After a weather-precipitated delay of a couple of days, Bill was laid to rest with his wife Sunday at Maple Grove Cemetery in Findlay.

I won’t go into the details of Bill’s remarkable life but will include a link to the previous post if you didn’t have a chance to read about him earlier. He’s a charter member of The Greatest Generation, whose numbers are sadly dwindling every day.

Instead, I’ll just say thank you, Bill, for living such a memorable life — as a son who lost his parents in early childhood and was sent to live in an orphanage with his brother; as a hero of three wars; as a father who raised two children (including a son who died tragically young in a car crash); and as a grandfather, great-grandfather of five and great-great-grandfather of four who dearly cherished his family.

I feel lucky to have known him, even just for what seems a fleeting moment. Bill touched and brightened the lives of many, and he helped saved the lives of soldiers with whom he shared the battlefield.

Godspeed, Lt. William Paul Rowe.

Bill Rowe (right), born in 1927, with his brother Bob, born in 1925. They were sent to live in an orphanage after the deaths of their parents.

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