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Patricia Paton Rowland of Port Washington dies at 83; devoted teacher had passion for music, history

Patricia Rowland, a longtime resident of Port Washington,

Patricia Rowland, a longtime resident of Port Washington, died of Alzheimer's disease on Sept. 11, 2015.

Patricia Paton Rowland lived a life brimming with music.

From singing in the church choir to producing school musicals, her love of music colored her life and the lives of many others.

Rowland, a longtime resident of Port Washington, died of Alzheimer's disease on Sept. 11 at the Tuttle Center. She was 83.

As a music and history teacher at Buckley Country Day School for more than four decades, she was remembered fondly by her students for her annual musicals and her patience. Her family and friends remember her positive energy and her infectious laugh.

Born in Manhattan on St. Patrick's Day in 1932, she graduated from Great Neck High School in 1949, where she met her high school sweetheart and future husband, Peter Rowland. They celebrated their 62nd anniversary on Sept. 5, a few days before her death.

She studied American history at Principia College in Illinois, receiving an associate's degree in 1952. She left college when she and Peter married in 1953, but returned to her studies later in life to pursue coursework in two of her passions, music and history, at Long Island University and Oxford University.

Her son, Jeff Rowland of Port Washington, said his mother never planned to become a schoolteacher, but that it was a natural fit. In the 1960s, Rowland was a housewife raising her two children, but when she became a Sunday school teacher at St. Stephen's Episcopal Church, a friend recommended she apply for an open position as a music teacher at Roslyn-based Buckley Country Day School.

She ended up teaching there for 41 years, retiring in 2009. Her experience, passion and genuine affection for children made her the quintessential teacher, the kind you remember and hope your children will encounter, said Buckley Country Day School Principal Jean-Marc Juhel.

She put on annual first-grade productions of "The Nutcracker" and wrote, directed and produced a third-grade musical every year. She loved the Great American Songbook and Broadway show tunes, and she adapted many popular musicals for the Buckley stage.

Mike Errico, a recording artist and educator, credits Rowland for instilling in him a love of music. She cast him as the Cowardly Lion in "The Wizard of Oz," which he described as a brilliant casting and one of the first times he felt "truly seen." It's a memory Errico said has stayed with him.

Rowland dedicated much of her life to teaching, but she also loved to play tennis, sail and travel the world with her husband. She was also devoted to St. Stephen's, where she sang soprano in the choir and produced cabaret shows.

Victoria Bjorklund, a friend of Rowland's for more than 30 years, said she was terrific with people of all ages, from the little children she directed in the Christmas shows to the senior citizens at church. She was "bubbly and fun," and Bjorklund said Rowland maintained a positive, witty sense of humor throughout her life.

In addition to her husband and son, Rowland is survived by a daughter, Liz, of Louisville, Colorado; and three grandchildren.

A funeral will be held at St. Stephen's at 11 a.m. on Oct. 3.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to St. Stephen's Music Fund, St. Stephen's Church, 9 Carlton Ave., Port Washington, NY 11050.

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