On Sunday, April 22, 2018, Sister Martha Rowson was called from labor to reward at Scotland Memorial Hospital, Laurinburg, NC. Martha Mel, as she was so fondly called, was born May 20, 1932 in Branchville, SC to the late David and Gladys Barnwell. She was the second of three children. Martha Mel attended Harriet Beecher Stowe Junior High School and graduated from Washington Irving High School in New York, NY. As a young girl, Martha Mel was introduced to and accepted Christ as her personal savior at Bethel A.M.E. Church in Branchville, SC. After her family transitioned to New York, Martha Mel continued to peruse her relationship with Christ at Bethel A.M.E. Church in New York, where she became a member in January of 1951. She faithfully served on the Usher Board, Young Adult Choir, Chancel Choir, and was President of the Missionary Board. Her love and passion for serving the Lord and others was evident in her devotion to her church, the community, friends, family and strangers.
Many were drawn to Mother Rowson because of her warmth, friendly demeanor, love for Christ, and her infectious smile. She will be remembered for her favorite sayings, “Don’t Forget to Pray” and “A Family that Prays Together Stays Together”. She will forever be known as a “Woman of Prayer and a Woman of Faith.” In 1960, Martha Mel met the love of her life, Mr. John Rowson, Jr. on a blind date in New York City. On June 30, 1964, they were united in Holy Matrimony and shared over 53 years of wedded bliss.
Throughout the years, they enjoyed traveling, hosting parties with the Friendship Circle, and playing Bingo. To this union, one son was born, Dr. Jonathan Rowson.
Martha Mel’s love and rapport for children led her to seek certification as a Daycare Mother. Children frequently were at their home. She furthered her education at Bronx Community College and The College of New Rochelle, where she obtained a Bachelor’s Degree.
After 32 years of the city life, The Rowson’s decided to return to the South after retirement. In 1996, they relocated to Denmark, SC. One of their first priorities was to find a church home. They didn’t have to search for long, because the love that was shown to them at Williams Chapel AME Church drew them in. After joining the church, Sister Rowson became a member of the choir, usher board, and assisted with administrative duties. In addition, she worked with Meals on Wheels, delivering meals to those in need
She was preceded in death by her parents, her sister, Barbara Barnwell, and her brother, David Barnwell. She is survived by her husband, John Rowson, Jr. (of the home); one son, Dr. Jonathan Rowson and daughter-in-love, Annette Rowson (both of Laurinburg); two grandchildren, Richard (Greensboro) and Angela (Laurinburg); two great-grandchildren, Olivia and Anthony (both of Greensboro); one niece, Marjorie (Kenneth) Shumate (Hampton, Ga.); two great-nieces, Tonya Summers and Ursula Folarin (both of Hampton, Ga); two great-grand-nieces, Brittani and Maya and two great-great-nephews, William and Ethan (all of Hampton, Ga); and a host of other cousins, loving relatives, and friends. Additionally, memories of Martha Mel will be cherished by special friends: Angie Quinoñes (Bronx, NY), Doris Parker (New York, NY), Dorothy Martin (New York, NY), Sadie David (New York, NY), Judie Wilson (Bronx, NY), and Reverend Rose Murray.