She was born June 25, 1933, in Elwood, Kansas to Olia Pauline (Mansfield) Dixon and John Freeman Dixon. Her family moved to Troy when she was 5 years old where she attended schools later graduating from high school with the class of 1951 where she was salutatorian. She received her nursing degree from General Hospital, now Truman Medical Center in Kansas City, MO, in 1954.
Rowena worked as a charge nurse at St. Barnabas Hospital in Minneapolis, MN in 1954. She was the pediatric supervisor in St. Joseph's hospital in St. Joseph, MO in 1955 prior to becoming supervisor at the Brown County Infirmary August 1956. She later was the OB supervisor Hiawatha Community Hospital for 15 years. Rowena was the Powhattan school nurse for 5 years prior to working at the Topeka State Hospital as weekend supervisor. She worked at Heartland East in St. Joseph from 2 years in the trauma center and later worked at the Veterans Administration Hospital, Topeka, where she retired in 1995. She also taught CNA- CMA classes at NEK Vo-Tech 3 yrs in Atchison, at the Brown County Infirmary, and Maple Heights Nursing Home in Hiawatha.
She was united in marriage on July 7, 1956, to Edgar C. Gamble in Troy, Kansas. To this union was born three children: Curtis, Jackie and Michaelle.
She is survived by her husband Edgar C. (Jack) Gamble of the home; a brother Sherman Dixon of Minneapolis, Minnesota; a sister Awanda Glover of Lawton, Oklahoma; three children: Curtis (Jeanne) Gamble of Livermore, California; Jacqueline Gamble Dodson RN of Topeka, KS and Michaelle Gamble of Overland Park, KS., five grandchildren: Christopher Dodson of Overland Park, KS, Phillip Dodson of Topeka, KS, Christi Gamble, Kathryn Gamble Jackson and Jonathan Gamble of Livermore, California, three great-grandchildren; a sister-in-law Phyllis Gamble of Hiawatha, KS and a host of nieces and nephews.
She was preceded in death by her parents, a sister Espanola Pennell, and an infant brother.
Rowena was very dedicated to her Church and community: she served as organist, children's choir director, altar society and CCD teacher at St. Ann's Catholic Church 13 years. She served as American Cancer Association Chairman 2 years; Hiawatha Precinct Committee Woman 1st Ward; and was President Brown County of Arthritis Assn 2 years. She also managed Gamble's Nursery & Garden Center in Hiawatha for 20 years. She served with the Silver-haired Legislature PRA of Brown, Doniphan, Jackson, Nemaha, Marshall and Washington counties for five years; was a Girl Scout Cadet troop leader for 5 years; served as moderator at the Highland Community College quiz bowl; and enjoyed bowling, bridge and writing poetry.
Rowena was elected as a delegate to International Year of Women held in Houston, TX 1976 - she amended a national resolution and was featured on NBC as she gave a speech at the convention. While there she met Betty Ford, Roslyn Carter, Pat Nixon, Lady Bird Johnson she also met Eldridge Cleaver, Barbara Jordan, Maya Angelou and Coretta Scott King, and assisted Coretta in writing her speech.
Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at St. Ann Catholic Church, at 2 p.m. Friday, October 5, with Father Earl Dekat as the celebrant. Interment will follow at Hiawatha Cemetery.
Friends may call at Chapel Oaks Funeral Home in Hiawatha after 10 a.m. Thursday where the parish rosary will be recited at 7 p.m., led by Father Sylvester. The family will receive friends immediately following the rosary.
Memorial contributions are suggested to St. Jude's Children Research Hospital which may be sent in care of the funeral home, 124 S 7th St., Hiawatha 66434.