A life can turn on one good deed, and Eddie Rowe -believes he’s living proof.
Rowe (Health Science Center ’69), a pharmacist in Kingsport, says he’d be “digging ditches today” if it weren’t for the kindness of former UT pharmacy dean Seldom Feurt. In gratitude for that kindness he speaks of, Rowe has put his money where his mouth is to endow a scholarship fund for pharmacy students.
Rowe owns Rowe’s Pharmacy in Kingsport and has been president of just about every pharmacy organization in Tennessee. But he grew up poor and never even expected to go to college. “We were so poor that on the totem pole of life, I was the part that was in the ground,” he jokes. “I thought a high-school education would be all I’d need. But I was working nights and finally realized I might do a little better if I had some college, so I went to East Tennessee State during the daytime. I’d come home at one a.m. and study.
“I finally got enough credits that my adviser told me I had to declare a major. Medicine and pharmacy were the only things I saw that interested me, but I didn’t even take any chemistry in high school.”
Rowe was admitted to the UT College of Pharmacy in Memphis and negotiated a $500 bank loan to finance the move from his home in Gray, Tennessee. He and his new wife, Dot, loaded the pickup and drove west–“neither one of us had ever been that far from home and we were kind of homesick.” Dot got a job making $50 a week to make ends meet.
“For date night, we’d go to free movies UT provided at John Gaston Hospital,” Rowe recalls. “We popped our own popcorn and took it with us.”
At the beginning of his third term, Rowe hit the wall. The rent was due and so was tuition, and the bank was demanding repayment of the $500 loan. “I went to see Dean Feurt and told him I was going to have to drop out,” Rowe recalls. “He said, ‘Eddie, nobody’s ever dropped out of school for lack of money since I’ve been here. I’ll give you the money out of my own pocket if I have to.'”
But the dean found $1,000 in a scholarship fund and offered it to Rowe, who confessed he was just an average student, not the 4.0 type. Feurt said no problem–the scholarship was based on need.
Rowe laughs, “I told him, ‘you got your man!'”
With loans from a UT fund and part-time jobs, Rowe finished pharmacy school with minimum debt and returned home to East Tennessee. “We were living in a rented trailer when our first son was born,” he recalls. “We went into debt and bought a house, but I told Dot that as soon as we were able, I had a responsibility to Dean Feurt and to UT to give back.”
In short order, the Rowes started contributing money for pharmacy scholarships. Later they established a scholarship endowment, and both of their sons, Tim and Daniel, also contribute to it. “If it weren’t for Dean Feurt, I’d be digging ditches today,” Rowe says. “I felt an obligation to him.
“UT has enabled me to enjoy a lifestyle I would never have known. I read something that says it pretty well: ‘Blessed are those who give without remembering. And blessed are those who take without forgetting.'”