Creating a Bright Future

May 19th, 2016

David Penney

Gary Rowe
Creating a Bright Future

Betty Simms pauses to consider the question.

“Thoughtful,” she responded. “And dedicated.”

She is talking about her late husband, Gary W. Rowe, and her words capture perfectly his approach to life – and the enduring legacy he leaves behind. 

A generous gift from his estate is having an impact across Newfoundland and Labrador. Twenty different organizations are receiving support for their programs and activities, with a concentration in areas that can be broadly described as health care and education.

His legacy lives on at Memorial.

Mr. Rowe had a vision for a comprehensive scholarship program extending across Memorial’s three main campuses. Ms. Simms has worked diligently to ensure that vision would become a reality. “Before Gary passed in 2010, we talked about his plans for giving and his estate,” she said. “He worked as a lawyer for many years and worked incredibly hard along with Jim Chalker and John Green to establish their own firm here in St. John’s. He was always very committed to everything he did and to the people and organizations in this province that were important to him. Every part of his gift has a reason or history to it, which I think makes it that much more special.”

At the St. John’s campus, his gift funds two general entrance scholarships, as well as designations for the Faculty of Business Administration and Centre for Nursing Studies. A commerce graduate himself in 1966, creating a business scholarship was particularly important to Mr. Rowe. Designed to support students studying finance, it’s also a tribute to Mr. Rowe’s father, who enjoyed a career as a chartered accountant. The nursing award is named in honour of Mr. Rowe’s mother, Dora, formerly a nurse at the Waterford Hospital in St. John’s.

Travis Kemp, B.Comm.(Hons.) (Co-op.)’13, received the Rowe scholarship in 2012 as a business student. Mr. Kemp is currently working as a senior staff accountant in Assurance Services with Ernst & Young in St. John’s.

“It was a tremendous honour to receive the Rowe scholarship,” he said. “When I was a student, the financial support really helped me focus more on my studies by reducing some of the financial stress. I’m from Manitoba and I was living on my own, so being fiscally responsible was really important and the scholarship helped ease that burden.” 

Mr. Kemp also reflected on the influence of the scholarship beyond the immediate support it provided during his academic career. “This scholarship, and any scholarship, really reinforces the importance of giving back to your alma mater and being involved in the community in which you live and work. And I think the impact of building leadership in this field is extremely positive.”

Mr. Rowe’s estate gift is also having a significant impact at the Marine Institute (MI) and Grenfell Campus in Corner Brook.

Scholarships have been established at MI for students enrolled in technical certificates and diplomas. This includes the first MI endowed scholarship, prioritized for students pursuing the Bridge Watch Certificate and Marine Diesel Mechanics Certificate. An avid art collector,

Mr. Rowe also had a passion for art – and Newfoundland artists especially – so establishing two scholarships for the Fine Arts program at Grenfell Campus was a perfect fit.

“This is a tremendous gift made even more tremendous by virtue
of the fact that it has the potential to directly affect a student throughout their academic career,” said Todd Hennessey, head, Division of Fine Arts, Grenfell Campus.“The legacy of this gift is not only in its generosity, but also in the desire to continue to train and educate Newfoundland artists.

“Arts education is a vital tool for self-expression and self-identity,” he added. “We’re fortunate to live in an amazing technological world, but technology alone won’t drive us forward – technology fuelled by creativity will.”

The many touch points of Mr. Rowe’s gift are a testament to his pride in Newfoundland and Labrador and his intent to reach the entire province. Ms. Simms noted that Memorial was more than a means to an end. For both her and her husband – the university is special to them as the place where they fostered friendships that have lasted a lifetime.

Ms. Simms is confident that the next generation of Memorial graduates will build a wonderful legacy, creating new opportunities and prosperity in the province
that meant so much to her husband. She has seen that potential in those who have been affected by Mr. Rowe’s generosity.

“I’ve received letters and notes of thanks from many people,” she said. “I get emotional just thinking about that. To hear from them and meet them is very special, and I’m reminded how this gift reaches a lot of people from all walks of life. I am sorry Gary isn’t around to see all the smiles on the faces. He would be absolutely delighted.” 



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