Lt. Colonel Kenneth Christian Rowe, USAF (retired), formerly of Boonville,
passed away in late February ** in
Riverside, California at the age of 92. He was interred with full military
honors in Riverside National Cemetery on March 5th.
Kenneth Christian Rowe, 2008
(photo by Patricia Lander 'Mickey' Rowe)
Lt. Colonel Kenneth C. Rowe, 1964
(U.S. Air Force Photo)
Born in 1916 to William and Christine Toellner Rowe of Boonville, Kenneth
was the youngest of their six children. His siblings were Alverta Rowe
Souder, Edwin Rowe, Erna Rowe Hopkins, Vera Rowe Grathwohl, and W.T. Rowe,
all of whom preceded him in death.
Kenneth's parents were both the children of German immigrants to Cooper
County in the 1860s. His father, William Martin Rowe, was a leading civic
figure in Boonville until his death in 1936, having been president of the
Boonville Mercantile company; a member of the Boonville city council and
the Walnut Grove Cemetery Board; vice-president of the German Evangelical
(currently UCC) church, of which his father, Johann David Rau, had been a
founder; and a long-serving clerk to the Missouri State Legislature.
William and Christine Rowe emphasized to their children the importance of
education, church, and community service, for which all of the family were
known, in addition to their keen senses of humor and musical talent.
Kenneth's musicianship, well-practiced in Boonville school bands and his
church choir, helped him finance his education during the Great Depression
by playing in a dance band and singing in a Barbershop Quartet. A member
of the Masonic Lodge, he was active in school and community service
throughout his life. The practical jokes of his earlier years were
legendary, perhaps especially those related to his collection of Missouri
rodents and reptiles.
Kenneth Rowe received his Master's in Biological Science from the
University of Missouri in Columbia. While studying he also became an ROTC
cavalry horse rider, a polo player and a pilot, and worked as a biologist,
a park naturalist, and as the Missouri State Taxidermist.
Kenneth was called into the U.S. Army on January 1942. After
transferring to the Army Air Corps he was deployed in Corsica as a
Navigator-Bombardier with the 12th Air Force, 57th Bomb Wing, 340th
Bombardment Group, 488th B-25 Bomb Squadron, flying missions in the Allied
campaigns in Italy, the Balkans, Austria, and Yugoslavia. Among his
squadron mates was fellow bombardier Joseph Heller, whose novel
Catch-22 drew upon the unit's experience.
Kenneth was honorably discharged at the end of the war and resumed his
work in Missouri conservation, but was recalled to active duty in the
Korean War with the 340th Bomb Group, 5th Air Force. From there he
advanced to commands in the U.S. and Germany until his retirement in 1967
at March AFB in Riverside. He was the recipient of many military awards.
Kenneth then returned again to conservation and biology, working from 1968
to 1981 as an Agricultural Inspector for San Bernardino County. After
retiring to Air Force Village West, he employed his knowledge of local
plant and wildlife and his skill as a writer and illustrator for nearly
two decades of regular features in the Village newsletter. In 2004 these
were published as a book titled Flora and Fauna of a Village.
Kenneth Rowe was the last of a remarkable family of Boonvillians, whose
legacies helped shape our city's history, and remain in our memories.
Kenneth is survived by his wife Dotty, daughter Kaye Sheffield, son Kieth
and daughter-in-law Mickey, 3 grandchildren, and 4 great-grandchildren.
Birth and death dates were omitted from the obituary at
the request of the family, due to concerns over potential identity theft.