Obituary: Ross Rowden
Ross Rowden was born in Eketahuna January,19, 1944, second son of Peggy and Alf Rowden. His early childhood was very happy, a lot of time was spent playing around the camping ground area.
His first business venture was a lawn mowing contract around Eketahuna with him paying his asset (the mower) off on a loan from his father.
Leaving school at 15, he began his working career on a dairy farm. He then moved on to work on the Eketahuna County Council driving the grader (during lunch breaks he drove the bulldozer).
Ross moved on to work for Jack Patching Contractors, eventually buying the business for himself, thus establishing Rowden Contractors.
While most work was in the wider Eketahuna District, outside work included Kumenga, South Wairarapa (humping and hollowing vast paddocks), Puketitri, Hastings and Terawhiti Station near Cook Strait.
He was part of a group of young men who took 'chap's holidays' down south. Probably spending more time in pubs than viewing the scenery.
On a Saturday night in December 1967, having nothing to do, Ross went to the Taylor house for a teachers' party with the family boarder. Meeting Denise led to marriage in October, 1968, followed by three children.
The downturn in the economy meant Denise returned to teaching. More prosperous years came as the economy settled.
Eketahuna was very important to Ross. Many projects - the pulling down of many buildings in town for progress, major work at the camping ground, helping Ray Stringfellow at the golf club, the ground work for the new tennis courts, ongoing help at the rugby grounds - showed his love for the town.
Outside work, Ross' many interests included rugby, tennis, hunting, motorbike riding and travelling.
His interest in tennis resulted in attending Wimbledon and two Australian Opens. His hunting included many trips into the Tararuas, the Ruahines and the ranges of the South Island.
One special trip was to south-eastern Stewart Island, accompanied by Denise, where he got the only white tail deer of the hunting party.
As well as many motorbike rides around Wairarapa, he had a notable trip doing the Four Corners of the North Island and just recently attending the Burt Monroe Classic in Invercargill.
Ross' rugby career on leaving school was to play for the Eketahuna junior winning three shields each year in 1963-64. He then played for the seniors. In 1973 while still playing for the third grade, he coached the juniors who won the competition in 1979.
Ross moved on to senior coaching and in 1987 the team won promotion to the senior A competition, having been undefeated (drawing two games) for the season. This resulted in three days sitting in the big softee to celebrate. He coached the Bush team winning the Bebbington Shield in 1993.
He was invited to become Vice-President of the Wairarapa-Bush Rugby Union and aligned to the B team R.D.O. Winners 2009. He was then aligned to the Wairarapa-Bush Heartland Team 2011-2012. Ross and Denise enjoyed many trips round New Zealand supporting the teams.
A more recent passion of Ross' has been travel. Over the last few years trips have included New Guinea and various Pacific Islands. A three-month tour of Great Britain took in the family history and all the major rugby fields (cathedrals and nursery rhyme places for Denise).
There was also a bus tour of Europe and a wildlife visit of South Africa. Ross travelled right round Australia and from the bottom to the top via four different routes. Brother Ian working in China led to a trip to China and Tibet. Ross' last overseas trip started at the Calgary Stampede, the Rocky Mountaineer train, Denali National Park Alaska, cruising the inland passage to Vancouver, on to Chicago to drive Route 66. This included time at the North face of the Grand canyon, the national monuments of Utah, a break in Las Vegas finishing at Santa Monica Beach.
Ross is survived by his wife Denise, children Mark, Blair, Francine and Teresa, eight grandchildren and one great grand daughter.
- Obituary supplied by the family