Donald Melvin Rowley April 19, 1934-June 29, 2020

Donald Rowley 86

Donald Melvin Rowley 

4/19/1934 to 6/29/2020

Don was known personally by a staggering number of people in the Lincoln County area and specifically in Newport. Those who didn't know him personally had probably heard of him. Quite a few tourists went back to their homes richer after sharing the joy of his knowledge of our area when accidentally meeting him over a cup of coffee at one of our local restaurants. His close friends fondly recall Don as the smiling guy who had a ready wisecrack and “ditty'' to spout for any occasion!


Don was born on April 19, 1934 to Cecil and Anna Rowley in Neotsu, OR. In later years, Don laughed about the local doctor who complained about having to drive his brand new Model T Ford on a country gravel road to deliver a baby! Don remembers, as a young boy, spending a lot of time digging out clams and mussels and filling 5 gallon buckets full that he sold to make spending money. He talked fondly of combing the beaches with his dad after storms - looking for glass floats and other treasures. He loved beachcombing and continued it through his adult years, finding, cutting and polishing many beautiful local agates and amassing an enviable collection of glass floats of many different styles, sizes and colors.


After the family moved to Newport, Don graduated from Newport High School in 1952 and soon after enlisted in the Army, serving 2 years. Returning to Newport, he started his career self-employed in several service stations that he purchased in the area. He married Jean Knaack, a local girl, in September of 1959.


In 1955 Don joined the Newport Fire Department, steadily moving up the ranks to Assistant Fire Chief, earning a “Fireman of the Year Award” in 1976. Don was appointed as Fire Chief in 1984 and served in that position until his retirement in 1998. Even though he retired, Don didn't quit working- volunteering at many local fund-raising functions for either the city or local organizations. For many years Don served on the committee of the well-known Newport Seafood and Wine Festival- facing sometimes driving rains and gale force winds while trying to get the tents and other structures up and secured. He was very active with the Chamber of Commerce for a number of years and in 2013, he received the very award that had been named for him: The Donald M. Rowley Spirit of Service Award. This award was given out annually by the Chamber to an outstanding volunteer in our community. Don also served as the tuxedo-clad escort at the Samaritan Foundation Fashion Shows, volunteered his services to the Newport Marathon and worked tirelessly setting up and maintaining the live trees at the annual Festival of Trees fund raiser.


Don is survived by his wife Jean and their children: Bill Rowley (Lyberti) and Karen Rowley-Windschigl (Terry). Grandchildren: Alexis Shrewsbury (Cory), Destini Burbee (Jake), and Brad Miller. Three great-grandchildren: Landen, Evan and Ben Burbee. Many nieces, nephews and great friends.


No services will be held at this time.


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