Anne Martin Wilson Rowe, 74, died peacefully Saturday, Jan. 24, 2009, at her home on Lewis Street in Fredericksburg. She died of lymphoma.
A native and lifelong resident of Fredericksburg, Mrs. Rowe was the daughter of Katherine Stoffregen Wilson and Dr. Fielding Lewis Wilson, a longtime dentist in Fredericksburg. She grew up in the family home on Hawke Street in the very neighborhood she would call home for the rest of her life.
Mrs. Rowe attended public schools in the city and was valedictorian of the class of 1953 at James Monroe High School. Hers was the first class to graduate from the new building on Washington Avenue following the school's move from its former location in what became Maury Elementary School.
She went on to attend Sweet Briar College and she graduated in 1957 from Mary Washington College of the University of Virginia, where she majored in English. She married Josiah P. Rowe III in 1956. The couple made their home on Lewis Street and became the devoted parents of four children.
Mrs. Rowe lived a full, satisfying life centered around family and her beloved hometown. She loved nearly everything about Fredericksburg and she committed herself early on to personal and public endeavors that would benefit the area and its people. Her gifts of time, talent, hard work and philanthropy will be everlasting. Ever the Southern lady, Mrs. Rowe possessed a gentle demeanor that belied an energetic spirit and great strength of character. Whether chairing a foundation board, donating blood, or taking soup to a sick neighbor, she gave of herself with grace.
As a dedicated volunteer, Mrs. Rowe accomplished much in her 74 years. Three awards illustrate the extent of her efforts. In 2003, she was named "Woman of the Year" by the Woman's Club of Fredericksburg, which annually recognizes extraordinary service to the community with its prestigious award. In 2002, she received the Citizen Salute Award given by the Friends of Mary Washington College-Community Symphony Orchestra in recognition of her significant contributions to the Fredericksburg area. And in 2004, she received the Women of Distinction award from the Girl Scout Commonwealth Council of Virginia for her lifelong volunteer efforts in the community.
Mrs. Rowe modestly claimed that her long list of accomplishments resulted in part from having stayed in her hometown and having gotten an early start.
While still in high school, she joined the Mary Washington Hospital Auxiliary, an organization that was dear to her for the rest of her life. She served in several official capacities, including the presidency, following in her mother's footsteps. She also helped start the auxiliary's knitting committee whose members create warm hats and scarves for the needy.
Mrs. Rowe's faith helped guide her into service as a young woman. A lifelong member of The Presbyterian Church, she began teaching Sunday School there as a teenager and later served as elder and Sunday School superintendent.
She was a longtime board member of the Presbyterian Home and Family Services and was a board member of the Presbyterian Outlook Foundation.
Over the years, Mrs. Rowe served on the Fredericksburg School Board, the board of the Fredericksburg Chapter of the American Red Cross, and the board of the Fredericksburg Festival of the Arts. She was also a member of the Mary Washington Hospital Foundation Board and the board of Friends of the Rappahannock. She was a founding director of the Community Foundation of the Rappahannock River Region.
As a native of Fredericksburg with deep family roots in the area, Mrs. Rowe was an enthusiastic student of local and Virginia history and she was dedicated to historic preservation. She was interested in saving tangible links to the past, such as Market Square and the stone wall around the Masonic Cemetery. But she also felt strongly that stories from bygone eras should be preserved.
Mrs. Rowe was a founding director of the Central Virginia Battlefields Trust, an organization formed to protect Civil War battlefields from development. She also was a founder and former president of the Fredericksburg Area Museum and Cultural Center, which benefited from her wisdom and guidance as well as her generosity.
Her many past activities include serving as a board member for Historic Fredericksburg Foundation Inc., board member for the Association for the Preservation of Virginia Antiquities, and trustee and secretary for the Kenmore Association.
She had served on the board of directors at Sweet Briar College, and at the time of her death she was on the board of trustees of the Virginia Historical Society.
A member of The National Society of Colonial Dames, she had served terms on the boards of two society house museums, Wilton in Richmond, and Dumbarton in Washington.
Mrs. Rowe's commitment to preservation and conservation and her love of flowers and gardening were all reflected in her longtime membership in Rappahannock Valley Garden Club. She served the club as president and she also was on the board of the Garden Club of Virginia, of which Rappahannock Valley is a member.
To further the garden club's restoration efforts throughout Virginia, she graciously opened her home several times for Historic Garden Week. Christmas tours of the Rowe home also were featured during Historic Fredericksburg's Candlelight Tour, which raised money for local projects.
Mrs. Rowe was involved in the Ladies Memorial Association that oversees the Confederate Cemetery. She also was active in the Fredericksburg Literary Club, a membership that led her to research and write a history of women's literary societies in Virginia.
In addition to her husband, she is survived by four children and their spouses, Jeanette and Nicholas Cadwallender of Fredericksburg, Florence and Richard Barnick of Fredericksburg, Sallie and Raymond Roberts of Westfield, N.J., and Josiah and Erin Rowe of Cheshire, Conn.
She also is survived by eight grandchildren, Jess, Julia, and Mary Cadwallender, Andrew, Scott, and George Barnick, and Harrison and Katherine Roberts; and a brother, F. Lewis Wilson Jr. and his wife, Bettie, of Stafford County.
Also among her loved ones are a number of foreign students who arrived at her home as strangers and left as family. They appreciated her kindness, warm hospitality, and home cooking so much that they still call her "Mom."
A funeral will be held at 11 a.m. Friday, Jan. 30, at The Presbyterian Church with burial afterward in City Cemetery. The Rev. Allen Fisher will officiate.
The family will receive friends in the Church House parlor on George Street Thursday, Jan. 29, from 6 to 8 p.m.
The family requests that expressions of sympathy take the form of contributions to The Presbyterian Church, 810 Princess Anne St., Fredericksburg, Va. 22401.