NORTHAMPTON – Kendra Ashley Rowan, 33, artist, craftsperson, photographer, and naturalist passed away Friday, Aug. 17, at Cooley Dickinson Hospital surrounded by her family.
Kendra was the beloved daughter of William and Kathleen Rowan, and sister to Kyle Rowan of Northampton. She will always be remembered by many aunts, uncles, cousins, and friends.
Kendra was predeceased by her grandparents, an aunt, and cousin Gary Albero (9-11-01). Kendra was a 2003 graduate of Northampton High School. She was captain of the then nascent crew team. Her consistent and reliable performance as stroke oar earned her the nickname of "our little diesel" from one of her coaches. Kendra also coxed boats for both the men's and women's masters rowing programs. When not on the water, Kendra loved to downhill ski and hike the mountains of New England.
Upon graduation she received a Sophia Smith Scholarship to Smith College where she planned to major in physics. She was a member of the cross-country team until her health caused her to withdraw from school.
Kendra struggled with an extremely rare and poorly understood genetic disorder which was misdiagnosed for many years. Faced with a multitude of ever-growing health challenges, her level of resilience and tenacity was nothing short of remarkable.
Even medical professionals marveled at her ability to continue to defy the kind of odds that she faced. She also had to be creative and resourceful. When she could no longer pedal a bicycle, she built an electric powered one from parts.
Kendra's greatest pleasure came from bringing a smile to someone's face. At age 14, she began volunteering at soup kitchens and shelters, and continued volunteer work to the extent that her disability allowed. While living in Boston she volunteered at Common Art for the Homeless. Finding a piano in the space, she initiated a "music hour" at which she played piano and sang with program participants.
Kendra was a talented artist and a lifelong scholar of biology and ecology. She once said that she spent a lot of time being still, and used this time to study that which she saw. She found peace in spending time outdoors, and drew artistic inspiration from nature.
Using watercolor paint, pencil, or camera, Kendra shared her passion for art and life. Kendra was an extraordinary woman whose creativity, sense of humor, determination, and concern for others was an inspiration to all who knew her.
Calling hours will be held at The Ahearn Funeral Home on Thursday, Aug. 30, from 4-7 p.m. A private celebration of life will be held at a later date.
In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations be made in Kendra's name to Common Art for the Homeless. Send checks to: Common Cathedral, 15 Newbury Street, Boston MA 02116 (write "Common Art" in the note section). You may also donate online at http://commoncathedral.org/donations.
Where it says "Add special instructions to the seller", write: "Direct to Common Art".
To sign a Guest Book, express condolences, share memories and read other obituaries, go to legacy.com/obituaries/gazettenet.
Published by Daily Hampshire Gazette on Aug. 28, 2018.