Obituary: John Rowse, longtime JP resident, dies

April 13, 2018
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John Rowse, a JP resident, died.
Courtesy Photo

John Rowse, JP resident for more than 40 years, died on March 29 after an extended battle with cancer. John, 74, died peacefully, at home, surrounded by his wife and three children. John and his wife, Susan Naimark, lived in the same Paul Gore Street home since 1977, which they bought abandoned for $300 and fixed up over the course of many years.

John founded three organizations that have touched thousands of people throughout the Greater Boston Area. Boston Building Resources (originally named the Boston Building Materials Cooperative) was based for a number of years in Jamaica Plain, and has empowered homeowners throughout the Greater Boston Area to buy, fix and maintain their homes as affordably as possible. As part of his work there, John did hundreds of home inspections for first-time homebuyers throughout Jamaica Plain and surrounding neighborhoods. After more than 20 years with that organization, John switched careers and became an elementary school teacher in the Boston Public Schools. In that capacity, he founded Community Boat Building, a nonprofit that seeks to inspire an excitement about learning among Boston Public School students through hands-on learning. The rowboats built by 5th grade students at the Haley Elementary School, and now Young Achievers, go to Jamaica Pond, where they become part of the fleet of boats for rent during the summer months. Most recently, John was instrumental in launching Passion to Teach, a new program funded by the Shah Family (the Wayfair founders’) Foundation to support Boston Public School teachers to identify an out-of-school passion and bring that passion into their teaching instead of leaving it at the schoolhouse door.

John’s legacy is not only professional. He is survived by his three children (one from his first marriage), Kristin, Ben, and Jesse; one grandchild, Harper; and his wife, Susan Naimark. The family requests that donations be made in John’s memory to Community Boat Building.

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