Alice Rowsell: 1911-2013
Alice Rowsell was nearing her 102nd birthday when, sadly, she passed away on 11 October 2013.
Alice was the wife of the Reverend Richard Rowsell (known as ‘Dick’) who began his ministry by setting up the Baptist Church at Didcot, Berks where they stayed from 1939 - 1946 and where their daughter, Gillian, was born in 1942.
Alice’s friends may also remember her from one of the other of Dick’s pastorates which followed: there was Carey, Kettering (1946-1953); then Harris Street, Peterborough (1953-1959); next came Slade Green, Kent (1959-64) and then Haddenham, Bucks - their longest pastorate from 1964 until 1976. In 1976 they took semi-retirement and moved to north Devon, with Dick joining the ministry team in a part-time role in the church at Croyde.
Alice was born in Earlsfield, south London on 30 October 1911 and met Dick when she was fourteen. She told us that they would meet on the platform at Clapham Junction; he would be on his way to Battersea Grammar School and she, having left school by then, going to the Civil Service College in Red Lion Square. She also confessed to having skipped services at the C of E church (where her parents thought she was going) to be with Dick on Sundays at Earlsfield Baptist Church. This is where they married in 1935.
As a minister’s wife Alice was fortunate to have Dick’s company throughout the day as he went about his work from home; they were a devoted couple. She was a very sociable person, engaging in church activities and accompanying Dick on pastoral visits. She was content at work in the house, taking pleasure in everyday tasks such as mending, baking and gardening, everyday skills which are not so everyday now. She enjoyed playing the piano, mostly hymns, and was a ferocious, and expert, knitter.
Despite her grief at Dick’s death in 1984, Alice did build a life for herself and make new friends through further moves within Devon where she remained close to her daughter, grand-daughters and four great grandchildren. In later years she made her first trips abroad, travelling with her family to Bermuda and to France (where, although in her nineties, she made her first trip up a mountain on a chair lift and decided it was time to take up French).
Alice retained her links with the Baptist Church through the Retired Minister’s Association, enjoying regular outings with the ministers and their wives. She will be missed not only by her family, but by friends and carers who came to know her even in the very last months of her long and busy life, and who will remember her formidable strength of character as well as her humility.
The funeral service for Alice Rowsell was conducted (following her wishes) by the Revd Derek Keenan at Ivybridge Methodist Church in Devon on 25 October 2013.