Roy Rowan

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Roy Rowan, Foreign Correspondent, Editor and Author, Is Dead at 96

Roy Rowan, a former foreign correspondent, writer and editor for Life, Time and Fortune, who covered Mao's revolution in China, and the Korean and Vietnam wars, died September 13 in Greenwich, Connecticut at age 96. He was one of two surviving American journalists who covered the Chinese civil war and in April 1975 was one of the last journalists to evacuate Saigon by helicopter. He authored ten books during his 70-year career.

Mr. Rowan was hired by Henry Luce in 1947 to cover the Chinese civil war for Life. Named Life's Chicago bureau chief in 1955, he and staff photographer Francis Miller covered Bernice Worden's 1957 murder in Wisconsin which became the inspiration for Alfred Hitchcock's movie, Psycho. In 1959, he spent a month traveling with Teamster boss Jimmy Hoffa for Life.

Appointed an assistant managing editor of Life in 1959, Mr. Rowan was having lunch with Henry Luce in 1963 when they learned that President Kennedy had been shot. Roy Rowan immediately flew to Life's Chicago printing plant to replace the lead story with the now famous eight-millimeter Zapruder film footage of the Kennedy motorcade in Dallas.

Roy Rowan launched two of the nation's first regional magazines, On the Sound and On the Shore in 1970. He sold them to Universal Publishing in 1972 and became Time's Hong Kong bureau chief for Asia, covering Nixon and Ford's opening of China and the Vietnam War.

Roy Rowan moved to Fortune in 1977 where he wrote 65 major articles including provocative stories on Labor Secretary Ray Donovan, Citibank chairman Walter Wriston, and an exposé on top American Mafia bosses. He wrote a groundbreaking Time cover story on the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103.

Mr. Rowan authored ten books including: The Four Days of Mayaguez; The Intuitive Manager; Powerful People; First Dogs: American Presidents and Their Best Friends (co-authored with Brooke Janis); and Chasing the Dragon.

Born in New York City on February 1, 1920, he received his AB from Dartmouth College in 1941 and MBA from Tuck in 1942. Drafted as an Army private in 1942, he attended Engineer Officer Candidate School at Fort Belvoir, VA and was stationed in Tunisia, Italy and New Guinea. He finished the war as a major in the Philippines.

Roy Rowan is a past president of the Overseas Press Club of America, the Time-Life Alumni Society and the Dutch Treat Club. Mr. Rowan is the 2006 recipient of the Henry R. Luce Award for lifetime achievement in journalism and a former member of the Century Association in Manhattan. His papers are archived at Hartwick College where he was awarded an honorary doctorate of Humane Letters in 1995.

Mr. Rowan was the loving husband of Helen Rounds Rowan (predeceased in 2013), a former Life picture editor. He is survived by four sons: Dana, his wife, Janice Kelley Rowan, and grandson William Roy Rowan (of Boston); Douglas (Ventura, CA); Nicholas (New York); and Marcus (Dallas).
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Published on NYTimes.com from Sept. 21 to Sept. 22, 2016
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