1937 - 2015
1937-2015 Landon Hill Rowland was born May 20, 1937, in Fuquay Springs, North Carolina, and died on December 28, 2015, at home on his farm in Kansas City, Mo. Landon was the eldest child of Walter Elton Rowland and Elizabeth Williams Rowland. His father moved the family to Portsmouth, Va., to work in the shipyards during World War II. When Landon was 13, his father died and the family moved to Wilmington, Del., where Landon began his working life, taking jobs on the edges of his school days. One such job was working on a maintenance crew for the apartment complex in which he lived with his mother, brother, Walter, and sister, Anne. It was during this time as a young teenager that Landon was exposed to the asbestos that would cause the cancer that ended his life over 60 years later. The struggles of his family in the wake of his father's death had a profound impact on his life and character, giving him an urgent drive to succeed and provide stability for his family. With that goal accomplished, Landon turned his attention to others, and particularly to the community of Kansas City, working tirelessly for those who face hardship, honoring and seeking fellowship with those who struggle with deprivation and illness. Landon attended Dartmouth College where he received a degree in English Literature in 1959, and Harvard Law School where he received a JD in 1962. While at Dartmouth, he met Sarah Fidler, a student at Smith College; they were a well- matched pair, reading poetry, talking about books, dancing to jazz, and they were married on Dec. 29, 1959, in Moberly, Mo. Sarah's Missouri roots brought the couple to Kansas City in 1962, with daughter Liza. Sons Matthew and Joshua were born to the couple in Kansas City, as was son Benjamin who died in early infancy. Landon joined Watson Ess Marshall and Enggas in 1962 and practiced antitrust and intellectual property litigation until 1980. At that time he joined Kansas City Southern Industries, where he worked with William N. Deramus III, with whom he developed the defining relationship of his professional career and who provided an inspiration until the end of his life. Landon became President and Chief Operating Officer of KCSI in 1983 and CEO in 1987. Under Landon's leadership, the company experienced tremendous growth, as the railroad expanded into Mexico and as DST and its mutual fund companies - Janus and Berger funds, INTECH Funds, Nelson Money Managers - flourished. From 1995 to 2003, he oversaw the reorganization of KCSI into three separate and thriving public companies: DST Systems, Janus Capital Group and Kansas City Southern. In his business life, Landon's enthusiasm for new projects and ideas was unflagging. In 2005, he and Sarah purchased a small community bank based in Garden City, Mo., which they later renamed Lead Bank. In 2015, they were pleased to cut the ribbon on a new branch of the Bank in the Crossroads of Kansas City. Landon's civic leadership and philanthropy were tireless and wide-ranging, reflecting the variety of his personal and intellectual interests, as well as his lifelong, instinctual commitment to the causes of the disenfranchised and marginalized. With Sarah as his partner, Landon was a steadfast advocate for the arts in Kansas City, serving in leadership roles for the Lyric Opera and the Metropolitan Performing Arts fund and enthusiastically supporting the Kansas City Ballet, the Kansas City Symphony, the Harriman-Jewell Series, and the Friends of Chamber Music. Landon and Sarah were strong supporters of the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art and created the Ever Glades Fund for American Art in 2002. The museum named the American Art galleries in their honor. On the campus of the Pembroke Hill School, the Rowlands provided major funding for construction of Centennial Hall, which houses the school's black box theatre, studio and performing arts classrooms and gallery spaces. Landon worked alongside Buck O'Neill to found the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum and served in leadership roles for the Linda Hall Library, the Liberty Memorial Association and the National World War I Museum. For nine years, he served on the board of the National Catholic Reporter as the sole non- Catholic lay member. Nationally, he served on the Committee for Economic Development where he became an ardent advocate for campaign finance reform, and on Business Executives for National Security, where he became fully engaged in efforts to support the needs of veterans of the Armed Forces. Landon was particularly inspired by his work with a number of community organizations addressing social welfare issues for Kansas City. He was the Board Chairman of the Swope Ridge Geriatric Center for 25 years. His association with the Local Investment Commission (LINC), where he served as Chairman from 1995 to 2014, brought him immeasurable gratification and learning. Landon faithfully served LINC, most notably in the development of its Caring Communities program, which emphasizes a grassroots approach to solving community problems. As an extension of his service to LINC, he was part of the group that helped shape the sale of Kansas City's charity care hospitals to HCA Midwest Health, creating a foundation with the proceeds of the sale to provide funds to ensure ongoing access to health care for the disadvantaged in Kansas City. When it became clear to the Health Care Foundation that HCA was failing to live up it its charity commissions, Landon pushed the foundation to sue HCA, a lawsuit recently awarding $433 million to the foundation. In 1987, Landon and Sarah moved to a farm north of the river where they began to breed and raise American Saddlebred horses. Landon wholeheartedly embraced the rural life, learning to ride and compete at horse shows and extending his involvement at the American Royal, where he served as Chairman of the Board and was named a lifetime director. A committed skeptic and incorrigible sentimentalist, a businessman never in it for the money, a man of searching intellectual curiosity and great gusto, of irrepressible charm and moving eloquence, a lover of sweetbreads and scrapple, opera and comics, mischief and erudition, Landon Rowland was a man of compelling complexity with a true egalitarian spirit. He was also, more simply, a model of generosity and good works for his children and grandchildren. He will be profoundly missed. Landon is survived by his wife, Sarah; his daughter, Liza Townsend, her husband Guy and their children, Edward, Marjorie and Harriet; son, Matthew Rowland, his wife Jennifer and their daughters, India and Beatrix; son, Joshua Rowland, his wife Ann and their children, Alice and Wilfred Rowland; his brother, Walter Rowland and his wife Beverley, and nieces, nephews, great-nieces and great nephews. Landon was preceded in death by his father and mother, his sister, Leigh Anne Snow, and son, Benjamin Jones Rowland. Services will be held at 3 p.m. Friday, Jan. 8, at Grace and Holy Trinity Cathedral in Kansas City. For those friends who would like to make a donation in honor of Landon, the family respectfully requests that they consider Swope Ridge Geriatric Center.
Published by Kansas City Star on Jan. 3, 2016.
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19 Entries
Anne Perretta
October 7, 2018
I vividly remember participating in Landon's campaign to be President of the Mount Pleasant student body in Wilmington, Delaware during the early fifties. He was a go-getter and a motivator who was fun to be around. Landon was the consummate mover and shaker and a natural-born leader; his was truly a life well-led - to Walt and the family I extend my sincerest condolences.
Roi Schilling
February 18, 2016
Mr. Rowland is a great example of a man. We met in the elevator at work(KCS)and he had on his overall over his suit. That's how our friendship began.He never forgot his roots and treated me as he wanted to be treated. I got a lot of free advise! He is a RARE jewel, Landon will never die! Psalms 1 (my favorite that I live by). Y'all will be in my prayers, family.
Jacqueline Paul
January 25, 2016
In loving memory of a wonderful person. We will love you and miss you always.
Harry Wolfe
January 15, 2016
As an employee of Swope Ridge Geriatric Center for almost 23 years, it was my pleasure to know Mr. Rowland. He provided an annual Fish Fry for all residents and staff every year and often came to help. He would put on an apron and gloves and pitch right in to help serve. Mr. Rowland was a true model of generosity with a servant's heart.
Rita Young
January 7, 2016
Reading this obituary, I can see why his son Matthew, a colleague of mine, is such a terrific guy. Landon sounds so well-rounded and generous, accomplished and kind. Condolences to Matthew and Jennifer and the whole Rowland family.
Ellen Gavin
January 6, 2016
Landon was my first boss in the legal field. He taught me so much about the law and preparing for a trial. He made tedious work fun. I didn't even mind getting his sweetbreads at Andres across the street. My condolences to his family. RIP Mr. Rowland.
Elaine Hanrahan
January 6, 2016
A few years ago I met Landon at Everglades Farm where my daughter works as horse trainer. He was very down to earth and very interesting to talk with. One of the finest men I have ever met, and will never forget. Rest in peace my friend.
Herbert Hughes
January 4, 2016
We first met when Landon led the acquisition of our company in Cheshire,England. A charming, honest, professional. Chris and I visited Landon at his gorgeous ranch in Kansas where we met Sarah, Wonderful hosts. A charming man who will be missed by many. God bless.
Graham & Chris Beschizza
Graham Beschizza
January 4, 2016
Landon was so fun to be around.
His humor was always on top
Our condolences to Sarah and the Rowland family
Hugs, Nancy and Bob hatch
Nancy Hatch
January 4, 2016
He was an inspiration to many, truly genuine. You knew when you were in his presence that he possesed something rare- a truly wonderful man. The family is in my prayers.
Laura Morgan
January 4, 2016
My condolences to the Rowland family. Landon was such a gentleman, and contributed so much throughout his lifetime. He was always so nice to everyone. I knew him through his support, and love, of American Saddlebred horses, and the American Royal. He will be missed so much by all who knew him. Rest in peace now Landon after your battle with this terrible disease. My heartfelt sympathy to Sarah.
January 4, 2016
This world lost a great humanitarian - the greatest I will ever know.
Gabrielle Kaniger
January 4, 2016
What a lovely gentleman, a very sad loss, condolences to Sarah and family,
Love Min & Nigel
Marina Bosley
January 4, 2016
We are all the poorer for the loss of a remarkable gentleman. My deepest condolences to his entire family.Dr. Michael Raynor
Michael Raynor
January 3, 2016
So sorry for your loss Josh and family. He sounds like a remarkable man. Sad loss for grandchildren.
Vickie Smith
January 3, 2016
My brother Landon and I grew up 22 months apart and we did everything together from playing sports, dating girls, eating scrapple, catching crabs, reading classic comic books and above all learning we could do anything with our god gifted minds and energy.We will meet again I am sure! As my older brother he was a wonderful inspiration and model. He cannot be replaced and is already sorely missed by many.
walter rowland
January 3, 2016
Condolences and Prayers to a pillar of Kansas City. May God bless you and our family.
John & Charisse Lee
January 3, 2016
Landon was so accepting and welcoming. I was anxious about our first meeting but he immediately put me at ease, a true gift.
Mardi Monello
January 3, 2016
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