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Michael A. Rowady, 101

Michael A. Rowady of Winchester, Kentucky passed away on Thursday, February 27, 2020 at the Clark Regional Medical Center at the age of 101. He was the widower of Alma Clarkson Rowady of Maysville, Kentucky, his companion in marriage for over 50 years and to whom he was unconditionally devoted.

Mr. Rowady was born in Winchester on November 20, 1918. His youth involved learning about life on the often-rough-and-tumble streets of its downtown, usually but not always emerging unscathed from the disagreements which seemed to occur on a regular basis. He and his six siblings spent their time after school and in the summer months in their father’s store on North Main Street, which numbered among its customers the general population of the county, and the Jews, Greeks and other Europeans who emigrated to Winchester in search of employment provided by the railroads. Many times, Rowady recalled the melting pot that was Winchester before and during the Great Depression. As he told it, very few Saturday nights on its crowded streets passed without the rapport of gunfire.

He graduated from Winchester High School in 1935 and went on to become its oldest living alumnus. While it may come as a surprise to many, Rowady played football for the high school whose mascot was the Shawnees. The Shawnees did battle in those days with Mt. Sterling City High. That may have marked the beginning of the rivalry between the two communities that seems to persist today, albeit in a more constructive manner.

Mike was always proud of Winchester in general but in particular he was grateful for the outstanding education he received in its schools. His instructors at the Hickman Street School and Winchester High School made such an impression on him that he was able to quote verbatim the works of Shakespeare and other classic authors he learned there into his 101st year. One of his favorite things about his wife Alma was her commitment to education as a teacher in the Clark County Public School system for many years.

Merely 16 years of age, Mr. Rowady enrolled at the University of Kentucky in the fall of 1935 to pursue combined Bachelor of Arts and Law degrees. He received the former in 1939. While attending law school Rowady passed the Kentucky Bar examination but remained in UK until his graduation in 1941. His Bachelor of Law Degree was later converted to a Juris Doctor, the common degree bestowed upon law school graduates.

Soon after he graduated World War II began. Rowady waived physical disability and was inducted in the U.S. Army Air Corps in May 1942. During service on four continents his military duties were primarily with the staff Judge Advocate Departments at each base he was assigned.

Mr. Rowady returned to Winchester in 1946 with an honorable military discharge. Shortly thereafter he became Winchester Police Judge until 1950. In January 1950 he lived in New York and enrolled in courses involving trial procedures, estates and trusts taught by noted New York attorneys, Amile Zola Berman and others equally qualified. This training was the equivalent of modern-day continuing legal education, except these courses were a college semester in length.

Thereafter, he returned to Winchester and opened a law office. At that time banks in Winchester did not have sufficient capitalization to meet some of his clients’ financial needs. This required joint loans with Louisville banks where he went several times a month. During that period, he became an adjunct member of the Jefferson County Bar Association.

In 1954 Rowady was appointed to a standing committee of the Kentucky Bar Association with instruction to develop a minimum fee system to help get Kentucky law businesses out of the financial depression that started in October 1929 and continued to linger for years. Other members of the committee were William Johnstone of Princeton, Kentucky, and Sam Milner of Lexington. Rowady prepared a rule preventing lawyers from advertising and suggesting hourly charges for legal services. The schedule set a minimum of $15.00 per hour for legal services. The fee schedule and advertising bar were struck down by the United States Supreme Court, nevertheless the hourly rate caught on and helped law office earnings.

Mr. Rowady served as Master Commissioner of the Clark Circuit Court for 13 years during which time he was a named hearing officer in domestic relation cases and at numerous times, as requested by the Circuit Judge or the attorneys involved, heard non-jury cases and made findings of fact, conclusions of law and final judgments which were approved by the presiding Circuit Judge.

Mr. Rowady had a varied law practice in both state and federal judicial systems, including before the U.S. Supreme Court. He represented a group that purchased over 1,100 acres in the neighborhood of Henry Clay High School in Fayette County where affluent subdivisions now exist. In some instances, he was permitted to invest in several business enterprises with clients, including the emerging cable television service. Several franchises throughout the state were obtained, a business organization was formed, and the physical system was constructed. These were operated for about a year and sold. With profits from these ventures he was able to establish a Charitable Remainder Trust at the University of Kentucky to help students buy books or use for other educational needs.

Rowady maintained a law practice until he retired at the end of 2005. He spent his retirement years performing pro-bono legal services, mentoring elementary school children and as advisor to Blair & Rowady, PSC and Rowady-Hendricks-Law, PSC, which took over his former practice.

Along with his wife Alma, Mr. Rowady was preceded in death by his parents Lewis Alexander Rowady and Rose Jabbour Rowady, both of whom came to the United States from the country of Lebanon. He was also preceded in death by his sisters Julia Rowady of Chevy Chase, Maryland and Helen Courie of Silver Springs, Maryland and brothers John Rowady of Lexington, Kentucky and Lewis Rowady of Detroit, Michigan, and by his faithful companion Cecil Thomas of Winchester.

He is survived by his children Jane Rowady of Lexington and Michael A. Rowady, II “Alex” (Rita) of Winchester; grandchildren Jackson Wells Rowady of Richmond, Virginia and Davis Michael Rowady of Lexington, Virginia, numerous nieces and nephews, and friend and caretaker Anna Thomas of Winchester.

Mike loved his family with great passion and was very proud of their accomplishments. He loved his parish family at St. Joseph Catholic Church where he attended regularly for many years and was a member of the Knights of Columbus. He also loved the Winchester-Clark County community and called it home his entire life. Most specifically, he loved its citizens, few of whom have not been regaled with one (or a dozen) of his slightly embellished stories about its history. He also loved his alma mater the University of Kentucky, its sports teams and academic endeavors, the Commonwealth of Kentucky, and the country for which he served during World War II. He enjoyed his more than 50 years of service in the Kiwanis Club of Winchester and the Clark County Bar Association, traveling around the world with Alma, the English language and its usage and origins, the Opera, old Western movies, and attending social gatherings of every sort. Undoubtedly, he enjoyed life to the fullest with Alma and then among his many friends in Winchester and elsewhere. He would want each of us to do the same.

Mike’s family would like to take this opportunity to thank the wonderful staff in the Transitional Care Unit of Clark Regional Medical Center where he lived for almost two years at life’s end. The family is eternally grateful to the many people from Winchester and elsewhere who came to visit him in the TCU.

Pallbearers include Jackson Rowady, Davis Rowady, Michael Rowady (nephew), Phil Kearney (nephew), Jim Fluty (family friend) and Reece Glenn (family friend). Honorary Pallbearers are Vic Bloomfield (friend), Randy Johnson (friend and caretaker), Roy Freeman (friend) and Ed Buckner (friend and caretaker), James Dillon Clarkson (nephew) and Edward Rowady (brother).

Funeral services for Mr. Rowady will be held on Friday, March 6, 2020 at 2:00pm at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Winchester. Visitation will occur Thursday from 5:00 – 8:00pm at the church. Scobee Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.

Contributions in memory of Mike Rowady may be made to St. Joseph Catholic Church in Winchester (the church, St. Agatha Academy, Knights of Columbus or St. Vincent de Paul Society), or the Clark County Public Library.