Charitable Gift Planning

Heide and John Rowan

The Rowan family at the Dedication

Warmth infuses Heide Rowan’s voice when she refers to her late husband John. Theirs is a story that began more than four decades ago when 16-year-old Heide first met John. Three years later, she married him. “People just gravitated to John. He always had this terrific sense of humor, an Irish twinkle in his eye and a welcoming personality,” Heide said.

For his family, his wide circle of friends, and even strangers on the street, John always had a warm smile and something nice to say. He went out of his way to greet all newcomers to the neighborhood. An electrician by trade, John often provided neighbors with home-improvement tips, and his expertise to go along with it. It’s no wonder his nickname around the community was “The Mayor.”

To celebrate John’s life and create a lasting legacy of hope, Heide and John talked about making a planned gift to Christiana Care. Heide subsequently established a significant trust in her will to benefit Christiana Care’s Center for Translational Cancer Research. Established in 2004, the Center features a 7,000-square-foot laboratory space dedicated to basic cancer research. It includes the sophisticated equipment necessary to investigate the biochemical and molecular etiology of cancer. This generous gift will support the quest for a cure, and instill hope into many for a healthy future.

John was born with a fighting spirit and was raised by his Irish parents and grandparents, who provided him with a solid foundation of faith and spirituality.  Throughout his life, he overcame many obstacles, starting with a low birth weight of just four pounds. During his teen years, John lost both his mother and his father. Later, he was in a serious car accident that left him in a coma for several days. And he suffered a heart attack at age 46. The strength and fighting spirit he demonstrated at every obstacle was apparent when, at 64, John was diagnosed with leukemia, a disease he successfully battled against all odds for more than two and a half years.

That gift of time is one that Heide credits to the multidisciplinary care John received at Christiana Care. Among expert and caring nurses and doctors was one John referred to as his “angel nurse,” Jessica Lawrie, RN, who stood by him during the first exceptionally tough two-and-a-half months.

Jessica recalls, “I’ve been on Christiana Care’s 6B unit for almost six years, and there are some patients and families that you connect with right away. Heide and John were that way for me.” Perhaps it was the fact that Jessica was the first person John got to know and trust at the hospital, but, Jessica said, “I think seeing me put him at ease.”

This exceptional care that John received at Christiana Care allowed him to meet his first grandchild, and to spend two wonderful years with him. In fact, the last time that John received chemotherapy at the hospital, grandson Oliver was being born just three floors above. As soon as his treatment was completed, John visited the maternity unit, with the help of his nurses, where he was able to welcome Oliver to the world.

“I’m just so grateful that John had time to know Oliver,” says Heide.

Following John’s passing, John and Heide’s neighborhood got together to dedicate a flowering cherry tree to honor John’s life and legacy of giving. The tree features a plaque that reads “In honor of our friend and neighbor John ‘The Mayor’ Rowan.”

Thanks to John and Heide’s gift to Christiana Care, John’s spirit of giving will continue to blossom for those who need it most.



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