James Waller (“J.W.”) Rowe, 94, of Hope, Ark. died Sunday, February 7, 2021, at Wadley Regional Medical Center in Texarkana. Born May 7, 1926, near Emerson, Ark., he was the son of James W. (“Jay”) and Willie Mae Broom Rowe.
In his early life, J.W. worked in oil fields in South Arkansas until he enlisted in the U.S. Navy. He served from 1944 through 1946, attending boot camp in San Diego, engineering school in Mississippi, then being assigned to USS Muster DD413. Upon his return to home, he worked for the Arkansas State Highway Department building roads across south Arkansas and pursued his undergraduate degree from Southern State University. After graduation, he obtained master’s degrees from the University of Arkansas and Henderson State University.
J.W. began his career in education as training director of vocational education for El Dorado COOP and assistant director of Pines Vo-Tech. He was the founding director of Red River Vo-Tech, now University of Arkansas Hope-Texarkana, where he served from 1965 until 1987. J.W.’s dedication to helping students of the area continued after his retirement by funding endowed scholarships through the UAHT Foundation. Never one to be idle, when he retired in 1987, he started SWA Recycling, which continued in operation for over 20 years.
He was compassionate toward all and generous with his love, time, wisdom, stories and money. A registered Boy Scout since 1968, he was a Silver Beaver recipient and Senior Scoutmaster for Troop 91. He traveled on numerous high adventure trips with the boy scouts to Philmont Scout Ranch, Camp Pioneer, Cimarron, New Mexico, Northern Tier Boy Scout Canoe Base, and Bissett, Ontario. He was an active and faithful church member throughout his life, serving as a Sunday school teacher in El Dorado, Pine Bluff, and Hope, and active in the First Baptist Church H.O.P.E. Club in his later years. He served on the Southern State Alumni Board, SAU Foundation Board, Hope Lions Club, was a past president of the Hope Hempstead County Chamber of Commerce and was named Citizen of the Year for Hope Hempstead County in 1999. He was a life-long SAU Mulerider supporter and ambassador, and received the Distinguished Golden Mulerider Award in 2017.
J.W. was also well traveled and had a heart for missions. He has been on numerous mission trips to Honduras, Guatemala, Brazil and Peru, with his most recent being to Honduras in 2019 at the age of 93. His favorite trips were the ones his grandchildren accompanied him on.
J.W. was preceded in death by his parents, 7 sisters and 1 brother; the mother of his children and wife of 52 years, Janis Brian Rowe; Velvin Maloch Byrd Rowe, childhood friend and later wife; and beloved daughter, Mona Rowe Rowland.
J.W. is survived by his children, Donna (Steve) Buelow of Hope, AR, Jay (Rhonda) Rowe of Siloam Springs, AR, and Jan Rowe of Columbia, MO. He is also survived by 10 grandchildren, Jamie (Shane) Carson of Hot Springs, AR, Matt Rowland of Nashville, TN, Erin (Jeff) Maneth of Texarkana, TX, Meredith (Nathan) Morgan of Clinton, AR, Hannah (Jim) Reynolds of Nashville, TN, Ashly (Tyler) Cummings of Benton, AR, Maxine (Chris) Shelley of Jefferson City, MO, Clayton Rowe of Broomfield, CO, and Sarah and Jacob Rowe of Siloam Springs, AR; and 12 great grandchildren, Carter and Ellie Maneth of Texarkana, TX, Chloe Jo and Kline Carson of Hot Springs, AR, Reagan, Rowe and Rhett Morgan of Clinton, AR, Jay Reynolds of Nashville, TN, Emerson and Maggie Kate Cummings of Benton, AR, Logan Alburtis and Aya Shelley of Jefferson City, MO.
A public viewing will be held at Brazzel-Oakcrest Funeral Home in Hope, Ark. on Wednesday, February 10, 2021, from 5:00-7:00 p.m. A family memorial service at First Baptist Church in Hope and graveside at Memory Gardens Cemetery in Hope is planned for Thursday, February 11, 2021, with Bro. Daniel Bramlett officiating. Funeral services will be live streamed at www.swark.today/tag/livestream/. The family requests that any memorials be in the form of donations to First Baptist Church, 315 S. Main, Hope, AR 71801, Susan G. Komen, and/or the charity of the donor’s choice. Funeral arrangements are under the direction of BRAZZEL/Oakcrest The Funeral Home of Hope, Eddie Brazzel, Director. Online condolences: www.brazzelfuneralhomes.com