Mary Buck Rowe, 102, secretary at Johns Hopkins and writer

January 03, 1998|By Jacques Kelly | Jacques Kelly,SUN STAFF

Mary Buck Rowe, a longtime secretary of the Johns Hopkins University department of physics who lived to be 102, died Dec. 27 of heart failure at the Baptist Home of Maryland.

Born in Front Royal, Va., she was a graduate of Randolph-Macon Women's College, where she taught French.

She came to Baltimore in 1920 to study for an advanced degree in French at the Hopkins.

For nearly 50 years Mrs. Rowe wrote her impressions of Baltimore as reflected through her family, church and experiences as a young graduate student.

The memoirs note how she lived at a St. Paul Street rooming house with other graduate students and how later, as a young mother, she and other women pushed their baby carriages to Wyman Park daily. She called the ritual "the roll-your-own" club.

She married Dr. George D. Rowe Sr. in 1922. In the early 1920s she and Dr. Rowe, a Baltimore physician who died in 1978, decided to join a church, an experience she later wrote about.

"For weeks we visited churches the city -- Presbyterian for me, and Baptist for George. I still had some of my childhood prejudices, looking down my Presbyterian nose at that those 'tacky' Baptists. But when my old and dear cousin John Buck invited us to a preliminary meeting of the new congregation, to be known as University Baptist Church, even I had to admit there was nothing tacky about any of these people," Mrs. Rowe recorded about 25 years ago.

"I was impressed by the array of distinguished and professional men who were the leaders, and their gracious and charming wives. I wasn't 100 percent happy with the eminent fundamentalist preacher who seemed to feel that anyone with a college degree must be a heretic or a heathen or an atheist."

She became a charter member of the church, where she was honored for her many years of service as a Sunday school teacher and choir member.

Mrs. Rowe, who lived near the Hopkins campus in the 300 block of E. University Parkway, never owned or operated an automobile. She did all her errands on foot and walked to and from her job at the Hopkins physics department, which she joined in 1934.

She walked there twice a day, returning home for lunch. She retired in 1960.

"Though she was well acquainted with history, she did not dwell in the past," said her former pastor, Dr. Joseph L. Giles. "She was a very articulate woman. She was not sanctimonious. She let her life and actions convey her faith."

She taught French briefly at Randolph-Macon and used the language to play games of Scrabble in French with friends who were fluent.

Services are scheduled at 2 p.m. today at University Baptist Church, 3501 N. Charles St.

One son, Dr. Wallace P. Rowe, a National Institutes of Health researcher, died in 1983.

Surviving are a son, George D. Rowe Jr., of Wycombe, Pa., four grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.

Memorial donations may be made to University Baptist Church or Randolph-Macon Women's College.

Pub Date: 1/03/98

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