Reprinted with permission from the January – February 2011 issue of The Fourth R.
From Edsel to Paul
John Rowley had a passion for cars and the people who sell them. Not even his first job in the business with the short-lived Edsel Division of Ford Motor Company stood in the way of his successful 31-year career. He eventually rose to be the National Fleet Sales Manager for Lincoln Mercury Division of Ford, headquartered in Detroit.
In retirement, it took him a while to find something that energized him religiously as much as the automobile business, and it was a Westar meeting he attended in 2002. “I found the study of the New Testament—the historical Jesus, the discussion of the papers and the ideas—fascinating,” he said.
“I’ve come to love it, and can’t seem to get enough of it,” the lifelong Episcopalian said. His bookshelf attests to this interest. He has bought many books from Polebridge Press, has 50 copies of The Fourth R (he bought back issues), and has files of all the papers presented at the meetings he has attended.
This has led to another interesting avocation: he writes biblical and other short stories that he shares with family members. In the stories, his main character is from the modern age, but travels back in time to engage Biblical characters; for example, Paul in Athens, Paul in Antioch, and a visit with Mark.
John grew up in the south side of Chicago and attended the University of Illinois. He then began working for a company that financed automobile dealers, and spent some time working for a dealer. “I just liked the people in the car business,” he explained. “They’re very extroverted, and always fun to be with.”
On an all-night plane flight from Burbank to Chicago, a TWA flight attendant captivated John. Six months later, in May 1954, he married Beverly Morley. They have two daughters and three grandchildren.
John retired from Ford in 1988, and he and Beverly spent the next 13 years on Hilton Head Island, South Carolina, where he first heard of Westar. However, the clergyman did not speak positively. This piqued his interest. When the Rowleys moved to Roseville, California, to be closer to their daughters and their families, he once again heard the name Westar. He looked into it, became a member, and attended his first meeting in 2002.
After the Campaign for Westar was announced, John sent a generous gift from a donor advised fund he had created through Fidelity Investments. “I was so pleased to discover Westar and was enjoying my participation so much that I wanted to do something that would ensure its future,” he said. “Westar is important to me and continuing support makes sense.”