David Rowan

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Mr. David Rowan was born on Oct. 9, 1952, in Athens, Ga. A wild Southern boy at heart, he grew up fishing, hunting squirrels, and roaming around town with a dog or two always in tow. David had a love for animals, particularly dogs, that eclipsed all else. He developed a special affection for German Shepherds and, for most of his life, there was always a German Shepherd at his side.

David was quiet, but not the kind of quiet that comes from having nothing to say. No, he was the kind of quiet that came from listening closely to the world around him, from experiencing different cultures and finding truth in places others wouldn’t notice. The kind of quiet that comes from seeking adventure and pushing the mind and body out of their comfort zones. Yes, David was a quiet adventurer, eager to explore the world we all share.

As a teenager, David moved to Santiago, Chile, where his father, Waldo, served as an American diplomat. David’s formative years in South America shaped his perspective on the world and imparted a sense of community that he carried with him for the rest of his life.

David returned to the States for college and grew up, as we all must do someday. He attended Duke University and University of Georgia School of Law, passing the bar and beginning his career as an attorney in Maryland. However, his heart remained outdoors: photographing wildlife, backpacking in Yellowstone, sailing on the Chesapeake Bay. He could name every bird, tree, and fish he ever encountered. David could win any case in court, but he wouldn’t light up the same way he did describing the life cycle of a horseshoe crab. However, his career as an attorney gave him the means to share his love of the outdoors with his three children, Devon, Lauren, and Joshua, taking any opportunity that he could to whisk them away for long weekends of sailing, returning salty and sunburnt, already planning their next adventure.

In 1999, David moved with his family to the Eastern Shore of Virginia, to a town they had visited countless times on their sailing trips over the years. Onancock was the first place David had ever felt truly at home. He opened his own law practice and soon became an integral part of the legal community. A self-proclaimed bookworm, he never felt at ease in the courtroom. He was soft-spoken, maybe even shy at times. But his mind was razor-sharp, and his quiet brilliance and understated wit brought him success and the respect of his peers. Although his heart belonged in the forests and creeks, not the four walls of his office, he deeply loved the community he served, and he found his purpose in helping the people of his beloved home on the Eastern Shore.

Thoughtful and reserved in his work, David was also exuberant and witty, always quick to crack a joke. He found a new way to express his infectious charisma and bold creativity when he discovered his local community theater, the North Street Playhouse. He could often be found rehearsing his lines with his children while he cooked dinner, laughing offstage as he put on progressively more ridiculous costumes, and grinning ear to ear at the end of a successful show.

In 2003, David found himself on a new kind of adventure: he had fallen deeply in love with the woman of his dreams, Tricia. Bearing witness to David and Tricia’s love made it hard not to believe in the idea of soulmates. They complemented each other in every way. Tricia was the sun and the moon in David’s sky. They got married in a small, beautiful ceremony in 2006, and they spent the next 17 years utterly devoted to one another. David, Tricia, Devon, Lauren, and Joshua spent their happiest years as a family together on the Eastern Shore with David as their guiding light in all things, from canoeing on Chesconessex Creek to traveling to the Galápagos Islands.

As the kids grew up and moved away, chasing the flame of adventure that was lit by their dad, David could be found at home, walking the trails of his property, feeding peanut butter sandwiches and hotdogs to the resident foxes and raccoons, or sitting on the deck of his sailboat Little Wing as the sun set over the horizon. In the wintertime he might be cozied up with an old sailing novel, while one of his favorite British murder mysteries played in the background. On an extra-special Saturday night, you might find him with Tricia at the Charlotte Hotel, tucked away at a quiet table in the back, sipping Prosecco and laughing at some inside joke they shared.

One of the many legacies David left was his relentless encouragement to others to follow their dreams. He gave Tricia the courage to go back to school after a long career in nursing and study pharmacy. While she attended VCU School of Pharmacy, David explored Richmond, discovering shad fishing on Texas Beach, and riding his bike along the wooded trails that followed the shores of the James River. It wasn’t his quiet piece of land on the Shore, but as long as he was with Tricia, he was content.

By the time he relocated to the city permanently for his health, he had acquired an entire library devoted to fly-fishing the James, and would often steal away to the river, even against doctor’s orders, to hear the birds and feel the sunshine — the same sun he had found on his sailboats, the same he had felt swimming with his children in the Galápagos, the same he had seen as a boy looking up at the mountains of Santiago — always following the warmth of the sun and the sound of the birds.

David found his eternal sunshine on July 3, 2023, with the smiling faces of his adoring children still fresh in his mind, and his beloved wife and soulmate, Tricia, at his side. The birds were singing as they welcomed him home.

David was preceded in death by his father, Waldo Rowan, and his mother, Mildred Rowan. In lieu of flowers, consider donating to David’s favorite charity, the ASPCA or the Eastern Shore SPCA. Private and public services to be announced.

Some men are born

with souls like thunder,

Booming, crashing,

Conquering mountains and

shouting at the sky.

Other men are born of rivers,

Of deep lakes and foggy marshes.

The water is quiet,

ancient, infinite.

The water speaks to the quiet souls, and beckons their return.

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