Noel Arron Rowe, lovingly known by many as Narron, “Pop”, & Bud, passed away peacefully in his home on Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2020. His life ended where his journey began, on his family land, just outside of Batesville.
Born on May 23, 1932, to Noel Sr. & Wilma (Neyhouse) Rowe, Noel was the oldest of three children to be born in the old farmhouse, with Theodore “TeeBugger” & Emma “Cookie” joining in later years. Together, the three children had a wonderful childhood, making do with what they had and finding lots of fun along the way. Living on a farm, the value of hard work was instilled from a young age by both parents. That work ethic lasted throughout Noel’s life. He went on to graduate from Charlotte High School in 1950 & attended Beebe Junior College on a basketball scholarship.
On Dec. 24, 1951, Noel married his love, Norma Jean (Caldwell). After growing up a few miles apart, they made the move to Michigan together, where they would go on to have 3 children, Noella (Jeannie) in 1952, Noel (Dean) in 1957, & Norman (Ken) in 1960. Noel was a provider that gave his children a city life, which was very unlike the way that he grew up. They were lucky to have family from home, in Michigan, and were very close with the Pontiac bunch. Noel enjoyed being involved by coaching the boys’ little league teams, refereeing basketball, & umpiring fastpitch softball. They made the trip back home to Arkansas whenever they could.
Noel began working for Pontiac Motors when he arrived in Michigan but was quickly recruited by the Michigan State Police, with the condition that he finish his college courses. Noel successfully met their terms, while working, taking night classes, and raising a family. He finished his Criminal Justice degree from Western Michigan University. His career with the MI State Police zig-zagged the family across the state and required many sacrifices by them all, while also giving them a legacy to be proud of. Noel had great stories about his days as a State Trooper and proudly retired as a Lieutenant in 1982.
Upon retirement, Noel & Norma returned to Arkansas and built a home on the family land. He became the patriarch of the Rowe family, taking care of his aging parents while venturing into new careers. They were happy to reconnect with the Caldwell side, also, and were all great friends. Along with other family members, Noel & Norma ran Gainsboro Grocery. They enjoyed being a part of the country community where they grew up. In addition, Noel worked/retired from Banquet Chicken & the AR Dept of Human Services. In the spring of 2019, Noel’s working days came to an end when the company was bought out. At the age of 88, he was forced to officially retire, much to his dismay. He loved going to work, being a provider, and having a purpose. A typical retirement was never in his plans.
Despite all of his professional accomplishments, what Noel was the proudest of was his family. He loved us all fiercely and dreamed of the times we could be together. In our heyday, Christmas celebrations and July 4th were legendary. In later years, Memorial weekend became a tradition of its own. Regardless of where we were or what we were doing, Noel took great pride in his family. He adored the children and treated them equally when he beat them at card games. He did not like to lose. When he told stories, the whole room listened. He had a way of capturing our attention and hearts like nobody else. For many of us, he was larger than life figure. He set the bar high and we did not want to disappoint him. He instilled in us the value of hard work, respectable choices, a spiffy shirt, and a clean car. Taking pride in how far you have come is worth recognizing every once in a while. Hard work can pay off and a little competition never hurt anybody. He had a great laugh and loved a funny story.
Noel leaves behind his partner of almost 69 years, Norma. A typical day would be spent playing Scrabble, cards, or enjoying the fruits of their labor from the porch. It was not always easy, but it was a good life. Noel also leaves behind his 3 children, 5 grandchildren, and 6 great-grandchildren, all of which very much admired and respected him. Noel was strong, dependable, intimidating, and tough, but also so loving, generous, dedicated, and wise. Most of all, he was ours, and for that, we will forever be thankful. He will be deeply missed by us all.
Due to COVID-19, a memorial will be held at a later date.