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Friday, September 15, 2023
10:00 - 11:00am (Central time)
Friday, September 15, 2023
11:00am - 12:00pm (Central time)
Dick Rowley passed away on Sunday, September 10, 2023 at age 91. Whether he’s relaxing on a train or dancing and singing his way there, he’s definitely bound for Heaven. He passed away peacefully and without pain, and we take comfort knowing he’s feeling honored to finally meet Jesus face-to-face.
It’s not easy to define someone like Dick, as he was larger than life. If he’s listening now, he’s already got tears in his eyes just knowing we’re going to try.
Dick took great pride in being a 4th of July baby and watching the whole country celebrate every year. He was born to David and Alice “Lovey” (Dahedl) Rowley in St Paul, Minnesota in 1932. His parents preceded him in death. Dick is survived by his brother David “Buddy” Rowley (Carol). Dick and Buddy defended each other in the neighborhood as they laughed their way through childhood on the West Side of St. Paul where cultures and ethnicities blurred, blended and built good character. Dick was proudly Irish, but he loved to call himself an Irish Mexican from the West Side.
If Burlington Northern Railroad had known that Dick and his friends had stolen peaches from a parked train car as a child, they may not have hired him into their accounting department. But his charismatic personality won their hearts, and he spent 42 years working at the railroad. He was active in the union, speaking up on behalf of the people. He was so influential in the union that a railroad VP asked him to become an Employee Assistance Counselor. It was a turning point in his career to be recognized and awarded for skills that came naturally to him. He found his true calling in his counseling career where he could spend his days helping people.
Dick is survived by his loving wife of 52 years, Kathleen Marie (Bush). Their love story began with a chance glance at work leading to 3 weeks of dating followed by a wedding on April 2, 1971. Together they built a strong partnership and family life, remaining madly in love regardless of any bumps on their path. As a couple they enjoyed days at home, at the lake, on a train, in a plane and on a cruise ship. They enjoyed music, dancing, movies, TV and spending time with their kids, grandchildren, and great friends over the years.
Dick was a proud father who brought 5 children into this world and raised 4 more. His oldest two sons, Rick and Mark, preceded their father in death. 2 daughters live out of state, Robin Plan in Texas and Jennifer Stefanovic in Florida. One son, Jim Cherry, lives in Arizona with his wife, Julie. Four kids remain in Minnesota: Juleen (Nick) Cardenas, John Cherry, Kelly Rowley, and Sean “Shawn” Rowley. From these children came 15 grandchildren Joe and Samantha, Dakota and McKenna, Robert, Nicole, Natalie and Jamie, Ryan and Michael, Chantalle, Kiona and Tabitha, Jamie and Chris. The family tree continues with 13 great grandchildren at this time. His children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews relied on him for great stories, sound advice, big bear hugs, and tough love when needed. Dick said his grandchildren filled him with purpose and pride, and his spirits soared when they were around. His close friends were like family to him, also. Augie, Rex, Jean, Nicho and Fran preceded him in death. Angela, Tom, Dan, Verna, Barry, Bill, Joan and many others remain here to mourn him.
During Dick’s growing years, he won the Roosevelt Junior High talent show singing “Over the Rainbow” and then became the lead in Humboldt Senior High’s operetta “An Old Fashion Charm.” He soon earned the nickname “Bopper” as he sang and played percussion at the height of the 1950’s rock-n-roll era. He often shared stories about his days as an original band member in Los Boleros with his best friend Augie Garcia and Jesse Lopez, Al Capiz, Eugenia Rangel, Willy Brown, Jimmy Harris and Maurice Turner to name a few. The band won several talent shows and played in many local clubs, including an opening set for Elvis Presley in 1956 in the Twin Cities. Dick jammed with local jazz greats George Shearing, Anita O’Day, Dizzy Gillespie and Herbie Fields. He was invited on stage with The Lettermen in Las Vegas, and his talent often surprised mariachi bands and waterfront musicians when Dick bopped in on their sessions. He shared his love of music with his children and grandchildren, introducing them to percussion and a wide variety of music. Neighbors in the 2nd floor apartment probably weren’t happy when the guy upstairs introduced percussion instruments to his 6 youngest kids, but the kids were ecstatic.
Dick was successfully sober for 48 years at the time he left this world. He fondly shared his sobriety story over the years, explaining that one night he asked Jesus to help him quit drinking, and Jesus responded that all he had to do was ask. The next day, Dick turned a shot glass upside down and quit cold turkey. He felt like a new man, freshly inspired and motivated. He gradually took pride in things he didn’t realize he could do, including building a raft, rec room, shed, deck and pool for the family. He was a sports fan, especially Vikings football and golf, and he earned a hole-in-one at Mississippi National in 1994. Dick proudly displayed golf trophies alongside his large collection of music, movies and family pictures.
Having Dick in your corner could make you feel like the luckiest person on Earth. Being close to his heart was a blessing and a privilege, as he faithfully kept each of his loved ones in his daily prayers. It’s surreal that he’s not nearby telling a story, cracking a joke, talking about something on the news or recalling a song. It may help over time to remember that he strongly felt Heaven was just another journey in life and an experience he looked forward to having. He’s surely there now, celebrating with a big smile on his face and joy in his heart.
A celebration of Dick’s life will be held on Friday, September 15, 2023. There will be a visitation from 10-11am, followed by religious service at 11 and a light luncheon. Location is Bradshaw Funeral & Cremation Services, 2800 Curve Crest Blvd., Stillwater, MN.