All of the stray animals in Heaven rejoice while those left behind here on Earth mourn the loss of our dear beloved Mother and Nana, Maxine Rowan. Ms. Rowan, 80, died Monday, Feb. 18, at her home with her devoted children and pets beside her.
Ms. Rowan was tiny in stature, but had a giant heart and personality. She was well-known for taking in stray animals and championing the rights and welfare of animals everywhere.
Her precious spirit and belief in unconditional love and acceptance made Mother a strong advocate for all whom she felt were poor and oppressed. She supported equality for people of all races and colors, help for the poor and the infirm, equal rights for gays and lesbians and immigrants' rights. Her support of these causes sprang not from some political agenda, but from her heart, following Jesus' example of compassion and love.
Ms. Rowan was not merely a sweet lady. She was fun, funny, mischievous, opinionated and intelligent. She was passionate and intense. She was the love of our lives.
Ms. Rowan was a huge Bama fan. She enjoyed going to Bama games with her son, even after she became sick and disabled. But mother took pride most in her children and grandchildren. Like a bright shining star, she was the center of their world.
Ms. Rowan was the daughter of John and Hazel Hanks. She lived her entire life in Gadsden, Ala. She was married to Milton "Doc" Rowan until his death in 1987. She had a sister, Bettye Udell, who resides in Glencoe. She had four children, Darla Sharpton (who died in 2004), Rhonda Cassidy (Bill), Chip Rowan and Dawn Beavers. Brenda Vowell and Deanna Everett were her chosen daughters. She had five grandchildren, Shana Anderton, Emily Hays (Tommy), Holly Autrey (John), Jason Beavers (Stephanie) and Karly Beavers. She had four great-grandchildren: Hunter, Lia, Gavin and Presley. She will be sorely missed by her steadfast friend, Richard Wright.
Also, left to mourn her loss are her loyal and very spoiled pets: Lucy, Velma, Hattie, Rosie and Mr. Hilliard.
Ms. Rowan was a graduate of Gadsden High School and was a longtime employee of the Gadsden Housing Authority, and later the Gadsden City Schools Special Education department. She retired in 1994.
Ms. Rowan was a member of Beloved Community Church in Birmingham, which she loved for its all-inclusive embrace of God's love and for its incomparable jazz orchestra. Her pastor, Rev. Angie Wright, will officiate her memorial service.
A memorial service and celebration of this indomitable woman will be held at 6 p.m. today at Collier-Butler Funeral Home. The family will greet visitors between 4 and 6, before the service. A time of offering will be provided during the service for friends to make donations to the Etowah County Humane Society. Those who cannot attend the service may make their donations to the Etowah County Humane Society at 4200 Brooke Ave., Gadsden, AL 35904, in her memory.
The family extends its deepest thanks to deNay Kirkpatrick and Dr. Rodney O. Tucker of the University of Alabama-Birmingham for their wisdom, gentle care and personal comfort. We also thank Alacare Home Health and Hospice for their excellent care, especially Kristi Graham and Kelly Usry. You lightened our load on our sorrowful journey.
Our hearts are heavy with grief, but our spirits are light with the joy of our mother freed at last from her earthly cares and pains. "She is a tree of life to those who lay hold of her; those who hold her fast are called happy" (Proverbs 3:18).