Obituary for Kenneth Christian Rowe

Obituary For Kenneth Christian Rowe

Boonville Daily News [Missouri]: Tuesday, 24 March 2009

Lt. Colonel Kenneth Christian Rowe, USAF (retired), formerly of Boonville, passed away in late February [2009]** 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.

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