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.
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.