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Bunny Rowell ’43, former trustee, dies at 93

Barbara “Bunny” May (Bowman) Rowell ’43, who was an Emerson Board of Trustees member from 1991 to 2000, died in Beverly Hospital on June 8. She was 93 years old.

Rowell yearbook

Bunny (Bowman) Rowell '43 pictured in her senior class yearbook. (Photo from Emerson Archives)

Rowell began her long history with the College when she arrived as a student in September 1939, earning a Bachelor of Literary Interpretation Degree in 1943.

She starred in the Commencement play, The Famous Mrs. Fair, in 1943, alongside Elma Lewis ’43, for whom the Elma Lewis Center for Civic Engagement, Learning, and Research is named. Rowell played the role of Angelica Brice in the play, which was directed by faculty member Gertrude Binley Kay.

“Bunny, as she was known to us, supported the educational value of the arts at Emerson and throughout the Greater Boston area,” said Emerson President Emerita Jackie Liebergott.

“Bunny, as she was known to us, supported the educational value of the arts at Emerson and throughout the Greater Boston area.”

Rowell was a member of Phi Mu Gamma and was the Sergeant-at-Arms her sophomore year.

During her junior year at Emerson, Rowell was maid of honor at her prom, worked on the prom committee, and served as her class’s vice president.

A native of Beverly, Massachusetts, where she lived the majority of her life in addition to keeping a summer home in Ipswich, Rowell was educated at Shore Country Day School in Beverly and the Cushing Academy in Ashburnham prior to Emerson.

According to Rowell’s obituary, she met her husband, the late Russell J. Rowell, MD, as a teenager. He worked as a Beverly Hospital physician while she actively volunteered there, becoming a hospital trustee in 1960.

She served on the board of the North Shore Community Arts Foundation, which created the North Shore Music Theatre, her obituary said. Rowell was also the president of the Children’s Friend and Family Service Association in Salem, trustee of the Wang Center for Performing Arts, and president of the Boston Opera Association.

Rowell worked as a teacher at certain points of her life, according to her obituary. She taught at the Chapel Hill School in Waltham prior to getting married, and at the Landmark School in Pride’s Crossing during the 1970s.

Rowell was a longtime member of the Essex Country Club in Manchester-by-the-Sea and the Chilton Club in Boston.

Among Rowell’s survivors are her devoted son, Bradford, of Beverly Farms, and his wife, Abby Ross. Rowell is predeceased by her eldest son, James, and her husband, Russell.

A celebration of Rowell’s life will take place at St. John’s Episcopal Church, 705 Hale Street, Beverly Farms, Massachusetts, on Saturday, June 28, at 11:00 am. Burial will be private.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the Dr. James R. Rowell Jr. Memorial Scholarship at the North Shore Community College Foundation, 1 Ferncroft Road, P.O. Box 3340, Danvers, MA 01923, Attn: Sandra Edwards.

Donations may also be made to Emerson College, Office of Development, 120 Boylston Street, Boston, MA 02116-4624, Attn: Barbara Rutberg.

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