Liberty mourns loss of longtime professor, museum director
The Liberty University family joined on Monday to celebrate the life of one of its longest-serving professors, Kenny G. Rowlette. Rowlette died on Friday, Oct. 26, at age 67. He started working at Liberty in 1980 and taught English for 33 years. Rowlette was the co-founder and director of The National Civil War Chaplains Museum, located on Liberty’s campus, where he shared his passion for American history and the Civil War period with the public. The museum is the only one in the nation dedicated solely to honoring the chaplains, priests, and rabbis who served soldiers of both the Union and the Confederacy during the Civil War.
For the last five years, Rowlette also worked with special projects at the Jerry Falwell Library.
A memorial service was held at Old Thomas Road Baptist Church, Pate Chapel in Lynchburg on Monday afternoon, with Pastor Jonathan Falwell officiating. Liberty President Jerry Falwell also spoke at the service and praised Rowlette for his major contributions to the university over the years.
He said Rowlette came to Liberty “early enough to really understand the pioneer spirit of Liberty and to appreciate it.”
“He was true blue — so loyal to the university,” President Falwell said. “He saw the struggles, he understood it, and he stuck with us … that is really what made Liberty successful — that so many people saw and bought into the vision of what Liberty would become.”
President Falwell recalled how Kenny Rowlette was in his first year of teaching at Liberty when he was a freshman. He said he was honored that Mrs. Ann Rowlette, Kenny's wife, asked him to speak at the service.
"Kenny loved the university and was loyal to its mission, even joining a small group of faculty members during the summer in the 1990s encouraging students to return to Liberty in the fall by reassuring them that the university was overcoming the financial struggles it faced at the time," President Falwell said after the service. "Kenny was one of Liberty’s finest and was one of the pioneers who never lost faith that Liberty would one day not only survive but thrive. Kenny will be greatly missed, but I am glad he lived to see the university prosper as it fulfills its mission."
Rowlette developed a Literature of the Civil War course and has helped coordinate an annual Civil War Seminar each spring on campus, which has drawn hundreds of people from all over the United States for reenactments and educational lectures about the time period. He was an honorary member of the MOWW and a member of the Lynchburg Civil War Round Table, as well as a member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans and the Sons of Union Veterans.
Memorial contributions may be made to the National Civil War Chaplains Museum at Liberty University or the American Heart Association.