Kiwanis honors Michael Rowady for club service

Published 9:47 am Thursday, August 8, 2019

Michael Rowady has been a stalwart of Winchester for more than a century.

He is an attorney. He has founded a number of businesses. He served in the Army during World War II.

He has also been a member of the Winchester Kiwanis Club for 67 years.

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Wednesday, the club members gathered to honor Rowady for his service to the club and to Winchester during the club’s regular meeting time. The meeting, though, was moved to Clark Regional Medical Center, where Rowady is currently in the long term care unit.

Rowady told a number of stories from his time in the club and in Winchester, including how he joined the club in the first place and how Winchester nearly became the site of a state prison in the 1930s.

Joining the club

“In those days, they picked (members) for your profession. There was no lawyer in there. The club when I came in was about 50 (members). I went in with Charles Bloomfield, who   recruited me. They would send you a card to congratulate you, that you joined a noble organization.

“Marcus Redwine … wrote some articles of incorporation. What happened was we incorporated the club and (Kiwanis) International wanted every club throughout the nation. Mr. Redwine wrote the articles we had and he was about to start  holy war with the International over it. They said, ‘We don’t care what you’ve got. We want these (articles). So Charlie Shouse was president and put me in charge of checking this out. That’s how I found out I was a good negotiator to appease Mr. Redwine. I looked it over and said, ‘I’ve looked over the articles that Mr. Redwine approved. The one thing I have  to say is everything the International wants us to have, Mr. Redwine has (included) but they don’t want his language. They want their language and they are in charge. Here’s your choice. You can drop out of International and they won’t let you operate when you do or use Kiwanis with your new club. Our choice is do we want to amend our articles.’ Mr. Redwine then made a motion to amend the articles.”

World War II

“I was in the military longer than World War II lasted. You talk about luck. I was in the battalion that landed first on Omaha Beach. We were about to get on the train to get on the boat to go to battle. They called my name and said step out of line. They said you are temporarily disqualified for overseas service. I waited until they left. I said, ‘What’s my problem?’ They said, ‘You do not have gas mask glasses.’ I’m so glad I didn’t. I’m sure they wiped out that whole battalion.”

The prison

“We brought Frederick Wallace, the New York police commissioner, down here after the 1937 flood. It rained endlessly from Dec. 31 to January 31.

Everybody was happy about it because it was going to bring jobs during the Depression. We had a meeting at the Brown Proctor Hotel. The place was full. Mr. Wallace, who had been a police commissioner in New York, had married a country girl and Happy Chandler was governor, and named him in charge of the prisons. He came down and said Winchester had been picked for the new prison.

Before they had an announcement from Mr. Wallace, the preacher at First Christian Church was a really smart man. He got up and said … ‘We are blessed by God to live in this lovely land. When the prisoners are there and escape, they want to get out and live amongst us and perhaps marry our daughters.’ It was a shot through the heart of the process. Mr. Wallace left there embarrassed. At the time, I wanted to shoot him but you did not want to be known as a prison town like Sing Sing.”

About Fred Petke

Fred Petke is a reporter for The Winchester Sun, the Jessamine Journal and the State Journal. His beats include cops, courts, fire, public records, city and county government and other news. To contact Fred, email or call 859-759-0051.

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