Philip Rowden



Jefferson County Leader May 9, 2013

Philip M. “Chip” Rowden, 39, of Herculaneum died April 19, 2013, at his home. Mr. Rowden is survived by his wife, Shannon (Rudin) Rowden of Pevely. Memorial services were held April 23 at Arnold Church of the Nazarene, officiated by the Rev. Tami Wilson. Burial was private. Memorials may be made to the Arnold Church of the Nazarene, 3651 Telegraph Road, Arnold, 63010. Arrangements were under the direction of Mahn Twin City Chapel in Festus.

Life Story: Dr. Philip M. ‘Chip’ Rowden, 39, Herculaneum
Peggy Scott May 4, 2013

People who watched finalists vie for advancement to the next round at the Nazarene Church’s Bible Quiz competition in Kansas City on April 20 were witnesses to courage that would make any dad proud. Herculaneum teen Jordan Rowden, 14, was putting his knowledge of Bible scriptures to the test the day after his father, Dr. Philip M. “Chip” Rowden, 39, lost his three-year battle against melanoma. Two of Dr. Rowden’s four children – Jordan and his 12-year-old sister Kaci – were participating in the quizzing on April 19 when their mother, Chip’s wife Shannon, pulled them out to tell them of their father’s death.

“He (Jordan) had qualified to go on to the next day – the top 10 would get to go to Indianapolis in June,” said Mitch Rowden of Hillsboro, Chip’s father and Jordan’s granddad. “Jordan’s mother gave him the choice, to stay or come home. He wanted to stay and quiz – for his dad.” Mitch said just 20 minutes before their son passed away, Chip’s mother, Ruth Rowden, spoke in Chip’s ear, telling him how well his kids were doing in Kansas City.

Jordan didn’t advance to the Indianapolis round, but he came close, his grandfather said. The Rowden kids had been coached by their dad, who served as the district Bible Quiz director until his health forced him to step away last fall. Dr. Rowden was a former Bible Quizzer himself, who made it to the regional competition several times.

“Oh, he did well, very well,” Mitch said of his firstborn. Dr. Rowden gave his parents lots of reasons to be proud. He excelled at Herculaneum High School and went on to college and medical school in the six-year program at the University of Missouri in Kansas City. He became a family practitioner and eventually focused on working with the elderly, serving as medical director at two nursing homes and for Amheart Hospice. “Chip,” who got his nickname from his toddler first cousin’s attempt to pronounce “Philip,” said at a very early age that he would one day become a doctor, Mitch said. “Maybe it was partly because of his mother going into the RN program, but he decided
he was going to go into medicine.”

Mitch handpicked his son’s future wife – sort of. After Chip started college, a new minister with an eligible daughter came to lead the family’s church. “ I told her (the preacher’s daughter, Shannon Rudin) I had somebody for her,” Mitch said. “She said she wasn’t looking for anybody.” But Shannon became friends with Chip’s sister, Corinna, and eventually got to know the big brother. One thing led to another. The couple married while Chip was in medical school, returning eventually to Jefferson County and membership in their parents’ church, Arnold Church of the Nazarene. The family grew to include four children (besides Jordan and Kaci, sons Trenton, 10, and Braden, 4), home-schooling them all.

Back in his own school days, Dr. Rowden played guard for his high school football team, and he had nagging back pain the family thought might stem from old injuries. Back surgery failed to heal properly and the surgeon sent off tissue for a biopsy. “The doctor didn’t really suspect anything; he said he almost didn’t send it off,” Mitch said. But the diagnosis was a tough-to-treat form of melanoma. The cancer advanced to Dr. Rowden’s spine and brain last October, and he was treated then with chemotherapy and radiation. The hospice director went into hospice himself the Saturday before Easter this year.

Dr. Rowden died on April 19, 2013. More than 700 people gathered at Arnold Church of Nazarene a few days later to say farewell, Mitch said. “His family was very important to him, along with his faith,” Mitch said. “He loved life and lived it to the fullest, with his family and his wife.”

Dr. Rowden felt a special call to serve the elderly. “That’s one of the reasons he was in the type of work he was in,” his dad said. Mitch said Dr. Rowden’s loved ones, of course, have difficult moments.

“When I’m by myself – not working or doing anything – that’s when it’s hardest. We had some baby pictures we pulled out, still on the counter at home. I think to myself, how did this happen, why did it have to happen? “It’s OK to question. But we’re at peace because we know where he is.”