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2014 News Releases

In Memoriam: Longwood benefactor, art collector Henry Rowe

August 15, 2014

Rowe Gallery

When tour groups and other Longwood visitors stroll into Lancaster Hall, home to the office of the president and other administrators, they are often stopped in their tracks by a remarkable gallery. The former library building’s front hallway is filled with a stunning collection of Chinese art, from rare neolithic clay vessels to Ming Dynasty roof tiles to superb examples of Qing Dynasty vases and bowls.

Even students and Longwood employees who pass through here every day often find themselves pausing to browse this breathtaking trove.

This week, Longwood is mourning the death of the benefactor of that collection, Dr. Henry Rowe, who passed away Monday, Aug. 11.

"Henry Rowe was one of the most knowledgeable and enthusiastic supporters of the arts at Longwood," said K. Johnson Bowles, associate vice president for corporate and foundation relations and former LCVA director. "He was not only one of the most important benefactors of the LCVA but of the university as a whole."

"Henry Rowe was an extraordinary man who possessed the unique ability to see beauty in everything, from medicine to art," said former Longwood president Dr. Patricia Cormier. "He saw life in its complexity, full of art and science, and personified that in his life. He collected not only for his own edification but also for the purpose of sharing, and he was one of the most adamant supporters Longwood has known. He will be deeply missed."

Rowe and his wife, Bernice Beazley Rowe '70, established the Rowe Collection of Chinese Art in 1994, more than 240 works that date from the neolithic period to the 20th century. Many of these pieces are on display outside the Lancaster Hall presidential suite and in the Stallard Board Room. In total, the Rowes donated more than 360 pieces of art to Longwood University, a collection worth nearly $1 million.

Also included in the collection are bronze vessels, Mingqi statuettes from the Han Dynasty and a tomb figure from the Tang Dynasty, among many others. Nearly every Chinese dynasty is represented in the collection.

In addition to creating the collection, Rowe emphasized supporting art education for schoolchildren and visitors to the Longwood Center for the Visual Arts, and was a strong advocate for international students from China.