Beloved husband and father, Lu Rowinski, passed peacefully in his sleep at his home in Fairbanks on March 25, 2013. A memorial service was held Saturday, March 30, at the Northern Lights Memorial Park Chapel. |
Lu was born Oct. 8, 1929, to Jadwiga Rowinski and Ludwig Rowinski, in Passaic, N.J. Lu worked summers at the American Museum of Natural History while getting his Bachelor of Science degree in ornithology from Cornell University, in 1951.
After serving in the U.S. Navy from 1951-55 as a medical corpsman and with the U.S. Marines in Korea, he came north to complete a master's degree in wildlife management at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. Lu was hired to work on museum collections in 1957 by Ivar Skarland, whom he respected immensely.
He met Christi Haff at the museum in Fairbanks and they were married in Summit, N.J., in December 1958. They drove a Hillman Minx across the country then north to Fairbanks, experiencing the usual January temperatures along the way. The couple then spent nearly the rest of their lives building their log home, barns and sheds.
Starting as director of the University of Alaska Museum of the North in 1961, Lu brought together a myriad of collections from all over campus, as well as exhibits already collected by Dr. Skarland on the third floor of the Eielson Building museum, to a central location in the old gymnasium, now Signers Hall.
Most important was the remarkable number of people he brought together to staff the growth of this young museum. In 1970, Lu, Christi and their three children, Lee, Anne and Tom, lived for a year in Copenhagen while Lu took a sabbatical to study at the Danish National Museum. Much of that year was spent visiting small regional museums throughout Denmark, Sweden and Norway, searching for more ideas to create the state-of-the-art UA museum.
Lu retired in 1980 with the title director of University of Alaska Museum Emeritus, after the early and under-budget completion of the new museum building on West Ridge. Lu also collaborated with Claus-M. Naske on three pictorial history books on Alaska.
Soon after retirement, Lu began to pursue his dreams of being a hay farmer and ski bum. They developed their hay farm in Delta and moved there in 1986. In the six years they spent in Delta Junction, they skied at the military's Black Rapids Glacier ski area, and continued to ski at Skiland. Cleverly, Lu convinced Christi to continue to patrol at Skiland so he could ski for free.
In 1992, Lu and Christi moved back to Fairbanks to be closer to their grandchildren. They managed Movin' Free farm for six months then moved back into their home. Lu began volunteering at the Georgeson Botanical Garden and developing his own garden. Shortly after this time, Lu and Christi happened upon an excellent house and horse sitter, Ann Knowlton, who would drop by and leave the Utah ski report on the breakfast table.
They began traveling to ski, often with their friend Barb Faye, while keeping up with the local season. They were confident leaving their horses and dog with Ann or Brit Larson. When their daughter started her family in Anchorage, they found themselves spending more time at Alyeska Ski Resort and finally bought a condo there in 2004. They loved their time there with family, entertaining and making new friends.
Lu was especially fond of skiing the Alyeska North Face. As his health became an issue, he contented himself with skiing the easier runs, and even skied on opening day at Alyeska, last November.
Lu is survived by his wife of 54 years, Christi Rowinski; children, Lee Rowinski and Anne Lee; and brother, Thomas H. Rowinski.
Lu also leaves behind daughters-in-law, Susan Woods, Colleen Kelley and Dayna Rowinski; son-in-law, Jim Lee; grandchildren, Eleana Woods, Justina Cogan and her husband Brad; Tad Rowinski and his wife Whitney; Jesse Lee; great-grandchildren, Wesley and Austin Cogan; and many friends and fellow down-hill ski bums. He was preceded in death by his son, Thomas P. Rowinski.
Published in Daily News-Miner on Apr. 2, 2013