Rowena Mae Markley, 86, died of natural causes at 10:50 p.m. on Tuesday, March 16, 2004. Formerly of Plymouth, Rowena died at Timbercrest Senior Living Center, North Manchester, Ind.
She was born in Bourbon, Ind., on March 3, 1918, the daughter of Harry O. and Mary Lilian Warnacut Compton. She was the third of five children.
In a loving tribute to his mother, Donald Markley wrote of the family: “Mary was consummately dedicated to her children. When faced with a mortgage foreclosure by the bank, she simply wrote Franklin Delano Roosevelt, stating that she could provide food for her children, but he must keep the roof over their heads.
“One week later, money arrived at the bank; the Compton household continued to flourish. This was mother Mary’s dictate: ‘We protect the children at all costs!’ Rowena learned well from her mother,” Donald said. “ She would protect the children of the world by bringing them to Christ.”
On May 29, 1937, in Bourbon, Rowena and Cecil F. Markley were married. They had met three years before on a hot summer night in Plymouth. Cecil died, holding Rowena’s hand, on October 6, 2000. The couple had enjoyed 66 years of marriage. Their son, Donald, said that they were both so thankful for having found each other, that they very rarely exchanged cross words. They were too much in love.
A Bourbon High School graduate, Rowena was very talented. Her early years involved being a legal secretary, realty secretary, license branch worker and shoe salesperson on the weekends. Donald described her life changing experience as a happening in 1953 when Ruth (Graham) Lyons entered Rowena’s life. “Ruth was the catalyst that sent Rowena into church work,” he wrote. “She became so filled with the Spirit of God that she virtually “bonded” with the church. From 1953 until 1980, she worked in Children’s Education with the Plymouth Church of the Brethren as well as doing chaplaincy work at Parkview Hospital. In 1973, she was called to be a Life Time Licensed Minister.”
Rowena often stated that “working for Christ and the church were the best years of my life.” Cecil and Rowena continued their own mission well into retirement. They visited with nursing home residents, many of whom were lonely with no family. She continued this until her death. She welcomed the task of transporting parishioners from the poorer areas of Plymouth for many years. In 1980, Rowena received an award from the pastors of Plymouth for her contributions to Christianity in Plymouth.
At her retirement, in 1980, the Plymouth Church gave her a trip to the Holy Lands. She never stopped remarking about this visit to her sacred beginnings
Rowena is survived by her son and daughter-in-law: Donald W. and Connie Markley, Plainwell, Mich.
Two grandchildren, Krista Markley, Grand Rapids, Mich., and Kurtis Markley, Phoenix, Ariz., also survive, together with a sister, Betty Grossman, Argos, Ind., and a close nephew and his wife, Donald and Mary Aker, Plymouth, Ind. Don Aker lived with Rowena and Cecil for a while when he was in high school. They loved him just like a son.
Rowena was preceded in death by her parents, her husband, a sister, Naomi Dixon and two brothers, Robert Compton and Ross Compton.
Friends are invited to come and share memories with her family of Rowena’s life and service to her church and her community. Visitation will be from noon to 2 p.m. on Saturday, March 20, 2004, in the Plymouth Church of the Brethren, 1130 N. Michigan St., Plymouth.
Funeral services, officiated by the Rev. David Kerkove, pastor of the Plymouth Church of the Brethren, will follow visitation at 2 p.m.
Entombment will be in the New Oakhill Mausoleum, Plymouth, Ind.
Funeral arrangements have been made by the Johnson-Danielson Funeral Home, 1100 N. Michigan St., Plymouth, Ind. Memorial gifts in Rowena’s memory may be made to the Plymouth Church of the Brethren or to the Timbercrest Retirement Home. .