Dr. Kathleen A. Lawler Row

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GREENVILLE - Dr. Kathleen A. Lawler Row, who became nationally known for her research work at the University of Tennessee that examined the relationship between forgiveness and health, and more recently served as chairwoman of the Department of Psychology at East Carolina University until her retirement in 2012, died on Saturday, Sept. 21, 2013, in Greenville, N.C., of complications from cancer. She was 66.
A funeral service will be conducted at 4 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 26, 2013, at St. Paul's Episcopal Church, 401 E. Fourth St., in Greenville. A memorial service in celebration of her life will take place at St. Paul's at 4 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 4.
Dr. Row was born in Pittsburgh, Pa., on May 30, 1947, to Stanley P. Wagner and Diana M. Wagner and grew up in New Concord, Ohio; Meadville, Pa.; and Oklahoma City, Okla., graduating from Classen High School in Oklahoma City in 1964. She attended Grinnell College in Iowa and earned a bachelor's degree from Oklahoma City University in 1967. She earned a master's degree at the University of Iowa in 1969 and a doctorate from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1974. She was a post-doctoral research fellow at the Harvard University medical school in 1974-75 and was a visiting associate professor in psychology at the University of Alabama in Birmingham in 1983-84.
During a career of more than 30 years at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, she specialized in courses in child psychology, positive psychology and the psychology of religion while undertaking research in the field of health psychology. Earlier research focused on the roles of Type A personality and anger in hypertension. More recent research studied the relationship between forgiveness and both mental and physical health. Her research showed that those who are more forgiving have lower levels of blood pressure, stress and depression and higher levels of positive health, such as autonomy, social support and healthy behaviors.
While in Knoxville, she was a member of the Episcopal Church of the Ascension and its choir, the advisory board of Friends of Music and the Arts performing arts series and the Irving Club book discussion group. At the university, she received the University Studies Award for outstanding contribution to interdisciplinary studies and a university citation for research and creative achievement, among other honors. She served on the university's Commission on Women, Curriculum Review Committee and Promotion and Tenure Committee, including a three-year term as chairwoman in the mid-1990s.
She came to East Carolina University in June 2006 to head the Department of Psychology and supervise the startup of a new doctoral program in health psychology. During her six-year tenure, she also increased the number of faculty members in the department and strengthened the department's focus on both undergraduate and graduate programs. She headed a search committee for a new chairman for the Department of Geography, and she headed a five-year evaluation committee of the dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, among other responsibilities. She retired as chairwoman in May 2012, and the psychology department named its annual graduate student research award in her honor that year.
"Kathleen was the right person at the right time when she came to the department," said Dr. Susan McCammon, who succeeded Dr. Row as chairwoman at East Carolina University. "She brought stability to the department, and her quiet style of leadership benefited the department in so many ways."
Dr. Row's work on forgiveness was featured in a public television documentary, "The Power of Forgiveness," in 2007, and in 2008, she was the university's nominee for the O. Max Gardner Award, the top faculty award in the statewide University of North Carolina system. She was author or co-author of dozens of research articles and studies in psychology, psychophysiology and health psychology, and she made numerous presentations at regional, national and international professional association meetings and conferences. She mentored many doctoral candidates, and she was a member of the American Psychological Association and was elected fellow in the health psychology division; a member of the Society for Behavioral Medicine; and a member and fellow of the Association of Psychological Science.
In Greenville, Dr. Row was a member of St. Paul's Episcopal Church and the church choir. She was in the Greenville Choral Society, and she was a contributor to the Four Seasons Chamber Music Festival. Her interests were music, reading, art, travel, cooking and gardening.
She is survived by her husband of nine years, Stephen E. Row, of Greenville; her son from a previous marriage, Andrew J. Lawler of Knoxville, Tenn.; her father, Dr. Stanley P. Wagner, of Greenville; and several cousins, aunts and uncles in southwestern Pennsylvania and Florida.
In lieu of flowers, contributions can be sent to the Friends of Music and the Arts, in care of Church of the Ascension (800 S. Northshore Drive, Knoxville, TN 37919); the music discretionary fund at St. Paul's Episcopal Church, Greenville, N.C.; the Greenville Choral Society (P.O. Box 1357, Greenville, NC 27835); or the East Carolina University Foundation, designated for the Department of Psychology.
Online condolences at www.wilkersonfuneralhome.com.
Published in The Daily Reflector on Sept. 23, 2013
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