Jan Rowley

Jan Rowley

February 10, 1953 – April 15, 2024

Jan Rowley died peacefully in Methodist Hospital after a brief illness on April 15, 2024, surrounded by her husband of 33 years, Rob Williamson; Fr. Darrel Proffitt; Steph Hartig; Gayle Smith and Elizabeth Watkins. She was a beloved English teacher at Ralston High School from 1976-2016, a talented singer/actress in many local productions, and devoted member of All Saints Episcopal Church in Omaha, NE.

Jan was born in Chariton, IA, February 10, 1953, to Charles and Eleanor Rowley. As part Charles’ duties as a school administrator and Eleanor’s as a teacher, the family lived in numerous cities in Iowa. Charles earned a Ph.D. at Columbia University in New York City. Charles’ love of baseball and the aura of the nearby New York Yankees cemented Jan’s life-long love for the Bronx Bombers. She always said, and truly meant, that she was a fan of the game itself. However, the Yankees past and present are what instilled joy in her heart as she watched many a game on TV. She was elated when the opportunities arose to attend games in person at Yankee Stadium. She was a classy fan, cheering for her team but also able to applaud the success of opposing teams and players.

After graduating from Drake University with an Education Degree, Jan taught one year at Dowling High School in Des Moines, IA. She then moved to Omaha, NE to accept the job of English teacher at Ralston High School in 1976. For 40 years she was a tireless and enthusiastic teacher, mentor and highly involved member of Ralston High school and the Ralston community. Many days Jan would put in 12 hours teaching, grading essays in a timely manner, and listening to students looking for advice. She enjoyed teaching higher level students, but her passion was to teach those students who needed extra help to stay on track. She frequently said she liked molding freshmen by giving them the organizational skills and know-how to be successful in high school. Jan also taught several years in Ralston’s alternative school, helping troubled students make up work and return to the traditional classroom. It was not uncommon for students to write thank you notes to Jan, telling her how much they appreciated her wise counsel and being the only adult who would really listen to them. She inspired numerous students to work through their problems and reach their true potential. Jan loved sports, working in the press box at football games and announcing wrestling matches.

Jan always loved theatre. When fellow teacher and director John Morrissey invited her to try out for his melodrama she accepted. She was cast as the heroine and Rob Williamson was cast as the hero. As they say, “the rest was history”. Jan and Rob dated for seven years and were married for 33. Jan starred in or was part of numerous local theater productions. She appeared on the stages of The Upstairs Dinner Theater, Chanticleer, Bellevue Little Theater, Dundee Dinner Theater, The Diner Theater, Snap Productions, The Madrigal Christmas Feaste, special events, and Ralston Community Theater. She received many accolades for her beautiful alto voice, which when needed could rise to mezzo-soprano.

Jan and Rob were married at All Saints Episcopal church on December 22, 1990. She sang in the church choir, frequently being requested for soloist work at special events, weddings and funerals. She was a Sunday School teacher and mission trip sponsor. Her drive and determination, with the help of Terry Glover, resulted in the rebirth of the All Saints library. She loved participating in the Book Club, sometimes helping choose book selections for the year.

Jan enjoyed being a part of Vacation Bible School. She was a tireless member of the Altar Guild, leading them for one term with her usual exceptional organizational skills. Please don’t let the memory of Jan fade into the past as time goes by. She was a shining example of how to live a kind and selfless life. She inspired more students than you can imagine to navigate the sometimes troubled waters of high school. She was a champion for those of any age who needed a helping hand. She was fair, funny, and totally unselfish with her time to those requesting it. Jan Rowley will be deeply missed but not forgotten.

CELEBRATION OF LIFE: Saturday, June 1, 10:30 a.m. at All Saints Episcopal Church, 9302 Blondo St., Omaha, followed by a lunch and video tribute. To honor all Jan has done, in lieu of flowers send tax-deductible donations to: Ralston Schools Foundation, 8545 Park Drive, Ralston, NE, 68127 (mention “Jan Rowley Memorial Scholarship”).

15 Comments

  • Ann Burke Downey Posted April 23, 2024 12:57 pm

    I am so sorry Rob. I don’t know what to say to make you feel better but know that you are in our prayers. Jan will be missed.

  • C. Joanne Whitt Posted April 23, 2024 3:39 pm

    What a shocking loss! Jan was one of my dearest friends in high school, in Des Moines, IA. An amazing and talented woman. My deepest sympathies to Rob and her family.

  • Dan Fucinaro Posted April 24, 2024 6:54 am

    My prayers go out to Mrs. Rowley’s husband, family and dear friends. She was my English teacher for my freshman year at Ralston High. She was an outstanding teacher: hard working, knowledgeable and caring for her students. Teaching was only one of her many God given talents that she developed. She also shared her gifts of the theater and music. I am but one of many individuals who was made better by knowing Mrs. Rowley.

  • Sarah Brumfield (Lundy) Posted April 24, 2024 7:48 am

    Mrs. Rowley (yes, even after over 20 years I still can’t bring myself to call her by her first name) was one of my favorite teachers at RHS. I was lucky enough to have her for English my senior year, which was just an added bonus to everything she did for RHS seniors.

    I was so thrilled and delighted to reconnect with her at the Orpheum on Tuesday nights. She always greeted me with the warmest smile and biggest hug. Tuesdays at the Orpheum will just not be the same.

  • Steve Larson Posted April 24, 2024 7:54 am

    Jan was one of the very few members of our school classes who accepted me from day one, She never made fun of me, at any time, and we became close friends many years after graduation when she and Rob and I would visit whenever I was deployed to the Omaha area. She was truly a class act and a kind soul; I’ll miss her tremendously. God give you peace, Rob…I’m sure he has special work set aside in heaven for Jan.

  • Dwayne Ibsen Posted April 24, 2024 8:32 am

    I’m so sorry for this. Jan was a special person, and an exceptional talent. Her presence will forever be missed. My sincere condolences. Peace to the family.

  • denise putman Posted April 24, 2024 9:12 am

    Jan will be remembered by so many people. She touched her students, her church family, her theater family and of course her own family. She had the best smile and the greatest laugh. My thoughts and prayers are with Rob at this time. Jan will be so missed by all those who knew her.

  • John Morrissey Posted April 24, 2024 10:47 am

    I am heartbroken.

  • Rosie Hogan Posted April 24, 2024 12:15 pm

    I once mentioned to Jan’s photographer husband Rob that Jan was very photogenic. Rob said, “It’s that perfect smile,” And indeed it was — that perfect smile emanating from that warm heart. I’m having trouble accepting that I will never be with Jan again; I will do my best to carry her heart in mine.

  • BERNADETTE SMITH Posted April 24, 2024 12:20 pm

    Rob, I am so sorry for your loss but so glad for your time together. It seemed to me that you two perpetuated one another: see Jan, see Rob; see Rob, see Jan. I always looked forward to seeing you two together in stage productions (like “La Mancha”- so wonderful!) and Cabrini’s “Passion” (so moving!). I know Jan will always be your shining star and will be with you always. You will always be the man she loved and admired. I wish all the best to both of you – one who has moved to another plane and one who remains to fulfill his destiny. Much love to you two❣️Bernie

  • Therese Rennels Posted April 24, 2024 2:18 pm

    I’m so very sorry, Rob. You have my deepest condolences and prayers. Jan was an absolute joy to perform with, and be around. She would keep everyone on task when needed, and then be in on a prank, also when needed. Jan was so kind, talented and giving. I will miss her.

  • Angela Stavropoulos Posted April 24, 2024 2:49 pm

    My heart goes out to “Mrs. Rowley’s” family. While I never had the privilege of having her as a teacher, I do remember her for her kindness and for her enthusiasm and support of the theatre productions at RHS. My deepest condolences to all who knew and loved her.

  • John LaPuzza Posted April 24, 2024 5:30 pm

    Hey Rob,
    I’m thinking about you, buddy. So sorry for your huge loss. Everybody loved Jan. Take good care.
    – John, Tucson, AZ

  • Terry Glover Posted April 25, 2024 9:43 pm

    What a beautiful recap of a beautiful person! I am a better person for having known Jan and enjoyed her outlook on life and her delightful sense of humor. She will be sorely missed.
    Rob – you are in our hearts and prayers –
    Terry

  • Ryan Meade Posted April 25, 2024 10:49 pm

    Through my fiance (shannon williamson) I had the pleasure of meeting Jan. Even though our conversation was brief I could tell she was a special person. Condolences to Rob.

Sign Guestbook

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *