Leroy Rowe was the kind of guy everybody knew and loved. He and his wife Barbara settled in Caroline County in the 1960s, and Leroy began immediately to volunteer his time and serve his community. His happy-go-lucky personality quickly earned him a network of great friends among the American Legion, Lions Club, and other organizations he joined.
Leroy loved to be outdoors and spent much of his free time hunting and fishing. In his professional life, he worked for many years at a local bank before launching Rowe Insurance Agency in Greensboro in 1990. Leroy’s interest in banking and insurance was always driven by people. He loved that his work allowed him to meet so many people from the local community and to help them in some way.
Leroy had a big personality, a big heart, and he lived a big life.
In 2010, Leroy and his family received devastating news that he had advanced melanoma. The cancer had already spread to his lymph nodes, and he was told he had only six months to two years to live.
The news was especially heartbreaking for Laura, the youngest of Leroy’s three children. She had always been close with her father. She worked with him at the insurance agency and took over the family business in the late 90’s. Her dad was a daily presence in Laura’s life.
Leroy, Laura, and the rest of the Rowe family were initially overwhelmed by the sudden and devastating diagnosis of a terminal illness. Leroy’s doctor referred him for hospice care, and that was just the help the family needed.
It was very important to Leroy that he remain in his home as his illness progressed. He wanted to be in his own space where he felt comfortable. Laura and her siblings worked out a plan to help care for their father in his final months. With guidance from Leroy’s hospice nurse, they set up a bedroom for him downstairs and learned how to administer care that would keep him comfortable.
“Dad’s hospice nurse, Lisa, was a godsend,” says Laura. “She taught us how to care for Dad and she told us what to expect at every stage of his illness. That was one of the most helpful things about hospice care. We knew what to expect, and we weren’t caught by surprise. Lisa would tell us what was coming and how to handle it, and it gave me and my brother and sister confidence to help Dad in his home.”
Laura says she and her family are grateful to hospice because it gave them more quality time with their dad at the end of his life. Because he was comfortable and felt confident with his care, Leroy was able to enjoy himself and keep his sense of humor right until the end.
“There was one time right before Dad passed when I was trying to help move him into his bed,” says Laura. “I was trying to lift him and we were both struggling and kind of getting frustrated with each other. Finally, I looked at him and said, ‘Listen, old man!’ We both stopped, looked at each other, and burst out laughing. It was so special to share the humor of that moment, and I love that memory.”
Leroy passed away in September of 2010, six months after his diagnosis. Laura and other family members were with him when he passed.
“You know that losing a parent is going to be hard no matter what,” says Laura. “But everything would have been so much harder if we didn’t have help from hospice. I really don’t know what we would have done without them. That’s what I want people to understand…It’s difficult to think about and talk about, but death is part of life. Hospice care makes it so much easier for everyone.”
Laura was so moved by her experience with hospice that she looked for ways to give back. She joined the Board of Directors for Caroline Hospice Foundation and helps raise funds to provide care for other Caroline County families.
“I know firsthand how important it is for a community to have great hospice care,” says Laura. “I want other families to get the same help mine did. Supporting Caroline Hospice Foundation is a true passion of mine.”
If you would like to help local families when they need it the most, please consider making a donation to CHF. Your donation will stay in Caroline County and is 100% tax deductible. A donation to CHF is one of the best ways you can honor life’s journey and help your friends and neighbors.