Gordon Alva Rowe was born to William Winfield Rowe and Edna Belle Botkin on May 23, 1937, in Palisade, CO. As the youngest of two brothers, Gordon’s childhood was full of adventures in and around their neighborhood while running around with their “gang” of pals. He was an athlete from a young age and participated in many sports. As he got into high school, he found a love for wrestling and that became his ticket to college.
Gordon went to Mesa Junior College for two years after graduating from high school, but found the experience too difficult at that point in his young life. He was a great wrestler but “forgot to study” and got “F’s for fantastic.”
He decided to join the Army in 1959 and had Military Police training in Fort Hood, Texas. Then from there he was sent to Fort Dixon, New Jersey before we went to New York to be shipped to Kornwsthime, Germany on the U.S.N.S Patch.
Many stories have been told about his time in the Army as a Military Policeman.
While overseas, he was able to play football and wrestling around Germany. He found joy in this and made phone calls home to his parents.
After returning from the Army in 1962, Gordon went back to college to become a teacher. He attended Westerm State College in Gunnison, Colorado where he met his wife Donna. Only God would put together a rough, cauliflower-eared wrestler with this clever, good-hearted school teacher. The two married in 1964 and began their life together as a teacher and Army vet turned college student. He worked hard, with lots of Donna’s help, to continue his wrestling career and earn his degree. In 1966, they had their first child, Marie and life changed forever after.
After Gordon graduated from college, the family moved to Durango where he could take up a teaching and coaching job at Durango High School. At two year intervals, Donna gave birth to two other children. Christina was born in 1968 and Anita was born in 1970 following 2 miscarriages. The family settled into life in Durango and Gordon had a long, successful career as the Demons Head Coach of wrestling for thirteen years and also served as a guidance counsellor for nearly thirty years. He was also a vital right hand man for his wife’s pottery business, spending many late nights and early morning hours tending to the kilns, wrapping pottery for shipment, and doing some of the less technical tasks in creating the beautiful work she was known for.
At the age of 55, Gordon was diagnosed with MS and eventually had to stop working full time at the high school. He remained as active as possible, found new adventures with his wife, daughters, and grandkids. He was a family man who was most known for handing out bananas and twinkies at any time of day. His sweet tooth was passed to many of his grandchildren. Wrestling was still a big part of life and he found so much joy in watching his grandsons wrestle and talk about it throughout their young years. Former wrestlers, coaches, and old teaching colleagues who would stop by to chat with him made his day.
In October 2019, Gordon’s wife was called home and he was left without his best friend. He often remarked about wanting to join her, but was willing to wait for God’s timing. He settled into life without her with support from friends and family. Eventually, after some decline in health, Christina and her husband moved into the family home to help care for him. He was blessed with their company and care until the end of his life.
He went to meet the Lord the morning of March 15, 2021 in Durango, CO. He is survived by:
Daughters and Husbands
Christina (Jeff) McMunn-Durango, CO
Anita (Chris) Hinger-Pagosa Springs, CO
Megan (Kyle) Skonieski-Techumseh, MI
Tori (Ryan) Marquez-Colorado Springs, CO
Lauren (Ethan) Grumke-Kansas City, MO
Sydney (Colby) Wallace-Springfield, MO
Jaden (Brittany) Hinger-Durango, CO
Kaleb McMunn-Durango, CO
Tate Hinger-Pagosa Springs, CO
Cam Hinger-Pagosa Springs, CO
Nika Hinger-Pagosa Springs, CO
Levi Hinger-Pagosa Springs, CO
Annaliese Hinger-Pagosa Springs, CO
Kaylee Skonieski and Adelena Marquez
Tori: I am Tori Marquez and am the oldest grandchild. I was the one to give our Fafe his name. He originally wanted to be called THE GRANDFATHER. But it never came out well. Eventually, Fafe was repeated enough times it stuck and we are lucky to have the only Fafe in the world.
When I think about Fafe, the word quality comes to mind. Quality time, quality laughter, quality advice, quality stories. He was truly a quality man in every way.
From about 4th grade until I could drive myself, he picked me up from school. He was always the first person in the car line because he would show up at least an hour early. He would chat with the janitors, coaches, or anyone walking around outside. He would balance his checkbook, check his tire pressure, and always had a snack waiting when I climbed in. Then we would run errands; UPS, the bank, Ace Hardware story, running into City Market to grab something for Mimi. After errands, just to spend more time with me, he would drive up and down every single street on the way home while we listened and sang his favorite wacky favorites. On some days, conversation would turn serious and I would hear some amazing advice or a story about him growing up. In those moments, he was easy to talk to and genuinely wanted to know me beyond what surface level. Once we got home, we would walk in to dinner waiting for us. He would say “See, we didn’t have to help with dinner” or “At least they can’t call me too-late-for-supper.”
I have no doubt now, that he planned that time to do his errands on purpose. He drew rides home out as much as he could just so we could talk and laugh. He made the mundane tasks and boring moments memorable and fun because of his attitude, humor, and intentionality. This string of memories will always be some of my favorite quality moments. He showed up everyday, no matter what happened, and took more than enough time to get to know about me. I treasure him and will miss him so much!
Lauren: my name is Lauren Grumke, and I am the second grandchild. Fafe was an enigma to many who met him. To his family, he wasn’t a mystery. He was the person who loved us deeply. He was the person who picked us up from school and made us after school snacks. He was the person who gave us twinkies and made us laugh constantly. One memory that sticks out is that he would give us an envelope with some money and some random jelly blue beans in it. Unknowingly I tossed all the jellybeans in my mouth to find out that one was in fact not a blue jelly bean. It was a liquid gel Advil PM. It immediately made my mouth numb and I had to swish water to get the taste out of my mouth. I told Fafe what happened and he didn’t say it was an accident and I guess I will never know. Regardless, my story is just one example of his quirky kindness. He did everything he could to give us a good life. I will miss him immensely!
Sydney: My name is Sydney McMunn. I think there are people we have in our lives that are effortlessly iconic. Fafe was one of them. He mastered the art of wit and quotability and effortlessly became a physical manifestation of the Sunday Funnies. That hilarity and lightness connected with me in ways that I didn’t realize until I grew up and saw the heaviness of the world. In the face of sorrow, I looked inward where I found a natural antidote. I found a poignant hopefulness and silliness, nurtured and amplified by Fafe throughout my childhood and formed into my most robust coping ability. He modelled joy and I found that so inspirational, even at a young age. I was so impressed by Fafe that I attempted to bring him to school for show and tell, and when that was not achievable I settled for planning an act for him and I to perform at the school talent show. It included various songs, handshakes, and a few gibberish conversations. Even the thought of such an odd recital would have ashamed other little elementary schoolers, but I was never more confident. Fafe had a way of affirming everyone’s expression of goofiness
Kaleb: My name is Kaleb McMunn. I am the son of Christina McMunn and am amongst the middle of the grand kids.
I have seen every square inch of Durango and I owe that to Fafe. He would pick me up from school and drive me back to his house where I'd wait for my parents but before we went back there was a list of things we did first. First place we went was the bank. And of course with the bank came the dum-dums to snack on. Next was always somewhere I've never been. I had no say in where we would go even though I would ask many questions to find out where. But by the time I realized where we were he would tell me exactly where we were and how this place came to be. The last stop before home was one of two places. Either sonic to get a treat. Because obviously lollipops were not enough. If it wasn't Sonic it would be driving by 441 East 11th St. which is a small red house that for a long time I had never actually seen the house because I would always look away or close my eyes. Then it was back home to enjoy in his favorite snacks amd treats. Looking back I had way too much candy and sweets at their house.
The time I spent with my grandfather I had learned so much but the things I hold nearest and dearest to my heart are as follows
That dipping a banana in kool-aid is perhaps the greatest dish ever to be served.
That being curious and asking questions are important even if they are random questions no one will understand and do not progress the conversation.
That change will come but don't let it change you because the same simple jokes about spelling the word it will last for an eternity.
That God is my heavenly father, Jesus is our savior and the Holy Spirit is with me always.
Perhaps the greatest thing I ever learned from him was that everything I just said needs one important thing. It needs others. He taught me that I should share his culinary masterpieces with the world. That jokes can be a great way to build relationships. That the world may be full or trickery and bribery but the good news of Jesus Christ should never be withheld from someone and that I should share and show the love of God throughout my life. His humor alongside his faith is something I will always strive for and am thankful for being able to see and learn from my Fafe.