John E. Rowland

December 24, 1921 - March 17, 2011

This page created: November 24, 2016.

John was born in a church in St. Francis, Minnesota. His middle name was incorrectly listed on his birth certificate. His birth announcement hand written by his mother contains the correct middle name of Elwin. He was the third and youngest child of William Rowland and Mary Mambourg. The eldest child was his sister Helen and then came his brother Alfred. John and his family came to Denver in 1923. They lived in the area of E. 20th and Lafayette Street. This was at the end of a street car line. At that time, his father worked for the Denver Tramway Company. From there they moved to the Barnum area. They lived on South Julian street. They lived in two different houses on the same block. The last house was at 4 South Julian. The house is no longer there.

Picture - John Rowland in 1940.John attended Barnum school from the first through eighth grades. He graduated from Barnum in 1936. John attended West High School. He walked to West from Barnum in good weather and in bad. The family did not have enough money to pay for the street car fare.

While at West High School, John was a member of the Rooters, stage craft assembly, and was among the top ticket sellers at the school. He had a perfect four years attendance at West. He graduated in 1940. The picture on the left was taken in 1940. John's family moved to 11 South Fox Street after John graduated from high school.

John redesigned the upstairs and built in a kitchen. He and his brother rebuilt and covered an exterior stairway into the basement and built a pantry on top for his mother. They built a radiator heating system in the house. They also built a drainage system out to the alley using fruit cans. During the depression you learned how to use everything. After that, the basement never flooded again.

John was an avid roller skater. He skated and worked at the roller rink Mammouth Gardens in Denver. John skated well into his sixties until the doctor told him to stop. John also enjoyed photography like his brother and sister. He took the pictures at his sister Helen's wedding.

John joined the Marine Corp in 1942. He served from February 9 through March 10, 1942, in San Diego, California. He received an Honorable Discharge upon report of medical survey for medical disability. This was due to poor eyesight. He then went to work for Consolidated in San Diego. He returned to Denver and worked in a skating rink. He took Engineering War Management Training. The equivalent of two years college in an intensified short program. He returned to San Diego and worked there four months.

He returned home. He looked around and received a response from Martin for a position in Baltimore. He did not like the Baltimore area and went to Washington DC. He went to work for the Bureau of Ships in their electrical section. He worked there for six months. He received a proposal for a two grade increase after he resigned. Then he returned to Denver. From there he went to Portland, Oregon to work in the Kaiser shipyards. He designed electrical conduit runways for Navy ships. He worked there until VJ day.

After the war he returned to Denver and went to work for the Colorado Highway Department, in the bridge design section. He worked there for six years and nine months. Then he was married. He worked several different jobs until 1955. It was at this time he moved his family to Sheridan, Colorado. The house was a small two bedroom house. When he bought the house it had no basement. During the early sixties John dug out the basement for the house using nothing more than a pick and shovel. He hand made a conveyor belt to lift the dirt out of the basement using a electric motor. He modified the foundation to accomodate a three quarter size basement, and with the help of only one other person leveled out the final concrete pouring for the floor. He also hand dug a well for watering the lawns.

He went to work Sterling Steel, Wright Engineering, then Allied Steel, and Burkhardt Steel. Burkhardt was later sold. The buildings were demolished and the property became a location for a light rail station. John worked for Burkhardt Steel for thirteen years. Burkardt Steel was located on Broadway just north of Gates Rubber.

He was elected to the Sheridan City Council in November of 1961 and served from January 1962 through December 1963. John's daughter Carol was diagnosed as mentally retarded. In the early sixties she was placed in the State Home and Training facility. Twice each year on Carol's birthday and Christmas he traveled to Grand Junction to visit. Carol was placed in a group home in the nineties. His last visit to Grand Junction was in 2009.

John helped carry and get petition signatures for the election that created Arapahoe Junior College. Many people tend to forget that Sheridan citizens along with those in Littleton voted to create the junior college. He was divorced on December 21, 1967 and retained custody for all of the children. In a rare event during the 60's he was awarded full custody of all three children. John was a Cub Scout parent and participated in many scouting activities. It was during that time he came to know many of the children in the community.

He went into business with Robert Gebhard in the early seventies. They started by working out the house for three months. The name of the company was Gebrow. They had their first office in the University of Denver area. Edward D'Amico joined the partnership. Eddie used to work with John at Burkhardt Steel. Later, they moved to an office in Lakewood at 11th and Harlan. John then went to work for himself in the late seventies. Robert and Eddie bought John out of the company. John took on the name of Jerow, Inc. for his company.

This picture was taken in May, 1984. Left to right: Helen Proctor, Alfred Rowland, John Rowland, and their Uncle John "Jim" P. Mambourg and Aunt Marie Mambourg. Taken at Barnum Park in Denver, Colorado. Helen, Alfred, and John went to many of their Barnum school reunions.

A few years later, John started helping with his high school class reunions at West high school. He was chairman of the 50th year reunion committee. He also put together the memory book for the 50th year class reunion held in 1990.

In the early nineties John sold his house. John moved out and worked and lived out of a warehouse for a period of time. John then went to Fort Wayne, Indiana to work for a steel company doing drafting. The company later had financial difficulty and John returned to Denver. He bought a house on south Zuni street in Denver. John set up an office in the basement of his house on Zuni street and continued to work long beyond retirement age. In fact he continued working until a year before his death. John was a good cook and loved to bake. He enjoyed gardening and loved to grow punkins and tomatoes. He was also proud of the tulips that he grew.

Picture - John E. Rowland at Colorado I70 Exit 2The picture on the left was taken July 2, 2005 of John Rowland at Exit 2 on I70 at Rabbit Valley, two miles from the Utah border. The steel structure in the bridge was engineered and the plans detailed (drafting drawings) by John.

John is buried in Chapel Hill Cemetery in Centennial, Colorado next to his brother Alfred and near his parents and sister.

John Rowland - Ancestor Tree in PDF format.


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