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Former W&L Trustee Charles Rowe Dies at 89

Charles Spurgeon Rowe ’45, ’50L, who served on the Washington and Lee University Board of Trustees from 1984 to 1994, died on Friday, March 13, in Vero Beach, Florida. He was 89. Rowe was the former editor and co-publisher of The Free Lance-Star (Fredericksburg, Virginia), posts he held for 48 years.

Rowe was a longtime supporter of the University. His generosity helped fund the complete renovation of Reid Hall in 2001–02 to take journalism and mass communications education into the 21st century. A conference room in the building is named for him. In 2002, he endowed the Charles S. Rowe Professorship in Law to promote interdisciplinary work in law and journalism; it is held by Brian Murchison. He also supported theater programs and the Annual Fund.

Rowe and his brother, Josiah P. Rowe III, established the Josiah P. Rowe Jr. Scholarship as a memorial to their father, to support journalism students. A member of the Doremus Society, he supported the World War II Memorial Scholarship Endowment.

Rowe served his alma mater as a class agent, and as a member of the Communications Advisory Board and of the national steering committee for the On the Shoulders of Giants capital campaign. He belonged to the George Washington Society and the Delta Tau Delta Fraternity House Corporation, which gave him a 250th Chapter Honoree Award in 1999.

He left W&L at age 17 to enlist in the U.S. Navy. After his service in World War II, he returned to W&L, where he served as president of the student body, managing editor of the Ring-tum Phi student newspaper, chairman of the Dance Board and president of Delta Tau Delta fraternity. He belonged to Omicron Delta Kappa, the leadership society founded at W&L; Phi Delta Phi legal fraternity; Sigma Delta Chi journalism fraternity; Graham-Lees Literary Society; and Phi Beta Kappa academic honor society. He graduated in 1947 and attended the W&L Law School for two years until his father’s death in 1949, when he and his brother assumed leadership roles at The Free Lance-Star — Charles as editor and co-publisher, Josiah as general manager and co-publisher.

He is survived by his wife, Lee Pelham Rowe; three children, Ashley R. Gould (Jeffrey), Charles S. Rowe Jr. (Jennifer) and Timothy D. Rowe (Lori); eight grandchildren, Taylor R. Gould, Lindsey R. Gould, Scott N. Gould (a member of W&L’s Class of 2015), Julia R. Rowe, Dana G. Rowe, William J. Rowe, Abe P. Rowe and Margaret I. Rowe; and his brother, Josiah P. Rowe III.

You can read a story about Rowe in The Free Lance-Star, as well as an editorial from that paper.