Thomas Dewi Rowlands

April 11, 1939 - June 20, 2019
Thomas Dewi Rowlands

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On June 20, 2019, Dewi passed through the rainbow into the loving arms of the Lord and those who went before him.

Dewi was born in Penrhyndeudraeth, Wales on April 11, 1939, of the late William Rowlands and Eirian Jones-Morgan. He is survived by his wife Martha Shogi (Marti), children Francine (Tom), Michael (Monica), Carys (Richard), Kathleen (Bruin), Tyler (Michelle), and grandchildren, William, Connor, Nathan, Noel, Austin, Colin, Reece, Garland, Maclyn, and Riley. Also surviving are cousins John, (Delyth), Gwen (Peter), Rhian, and Elfed. He was predeceased by his wife Yolande Noella Stevens Rowlands, and daughter Lora Shogi.

At age 17 he left his home in North Wales and traveled to Bristol, England to begin a comprehensive airplane apprenticeship. He studied aeronautics at night as he worked for the Bristol Airplane Company. He graduated as a mechanical as well as an aeronautical engineer. He described himself as an aerodynamicist. He began work for British Aerospace Corporation (BAC), where he was part of the design team for the Concorde SST.

In 1970, he moved to the US with his wife Yolande and their three young children. His assignment for BAC was to work with the US Government to obtain landing rights for the Concorde in the US. He was promoted to Executive Vice President. He was transferred in 1988 to London BAE with his former wife Sue Buckstrup, where he managed aircraft sales until 1991. He worked for what became BAE for forty-three years. After retirement from BAE he spent three years in Buenos Aires, Argentina and Santiago, Chile, where he married Karen while working for Lan Chile. He retired to Wilmington, NC in 1999.

Never one to be idle, he volunteered in 2000 for Wilmington’s Cape Fear Habitat for Humanity where he built houses for 15 years, and made wonderful friends. It was there that he met his wife Martha.

While an apprentice in Bristol, Dewi was an eager volunteer for the Bristol Fire Service Brigade. After his move to the US, he volunteered at the Burke Fire Station, Fairfax, Virginia, and then at the Sterling Fire and Rescue Company in Sterling, Virginia, where he was a firefighter/EMT. In Wilmington, he became a member of the Wrightsville Beach sea turtle watch team. Early in the mornings he could be seen walking the lengths of beach in search of tracks left behind by nesting mother sea turtles. He also was an active member in the on-going ministry of his church, The Little Chapel on the Boardwalk.

Dewi’s life was built around his determination to follow his path, wherever it led. He never left his many friends behind. Often, he called them to let them know they were in his thoughts, memories of his joy filled life. A man of few words, his mind was forever a blur of ideas and calculations. His wry humor drew people to him. His bigger than life presence filled the room with light. There was only one Dewi.

Dewi was a proud Welshman, a native speaker of that unique consonant-filled language. He called home every week and spoke to his cousins and friends, keeping his native language alive. He prayed each night in Welsh and cherished his roots in the green mountains and valleys of his native Wales.

A Celebration of Life will be held at Little Chapel on the Boardwalk, 2 West Fayetteville St, Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina on Saturday, June 29, 2019 at 11:00 AM, followed by a reception.

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to Cape Fear Habitat for Humanity, 20 N 4th Street, #200, Wilmington, NC 28401 or Lower Cape Fear Hospice, 1414 Physicians Dr, Wilmington, 28401.

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Wilmington Funeral & Cremation 1535 S. 41st Street, Wilmington, NC 28403 910-791-9099.

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  • June 22, 2019
    Lynne Merritt says:
    First a great boss, caring and thoughtful, a friend always sharing stories, laughter and kindness. Although time and distance grew I always felt and will continue to hold the memory of Dewi in my heart with the highest respect and admiration.

  • June 23, 2019
    Anthony Ennis says:
    I first met Dewi in 1981 when I came to work in the US. I immediately liked him. I think I went up in his esteem when he challenged me as to whether my bow tie was hand tied. It was, and with great bravado I undid it to show him and then retied it without a mirror to his amazement (and mine) - a feat I had never achieved before or since. We missed a plane together once, heading off to see a customer, because I was running late getting the proposal ready. Dewi was furious 'Ennis , I have never missed a plane in my life !" I remained quiet ....seconds later his face turned red and he said " Oh yes I have -and that was your fault as well !#@!". He was right. We were once on a large conference call with Dewi the other end. I thought he was wrong and quietly muttered words to that effect...suddenly booming out of the speaker phone came " Ennis , I heard that you ****** "- but later he agreed with me. He would sometimes say " I am madder than heck - so you are probably right " My favorite was when, at a major conference, he dragged me off to a dinner with some journalists that I didn't want to go to. Caviar was on the menu so I petulantly ordered it and Dewi looked at me and said "Ennis I will win in the end " so I changed my order to soup. Larger than life, warm, kind, generous and forgiving. He was always someone you could go to if you had a problem. He was a great leader and he will live on in the thoughts of many whose lives he touched.

  • June 26, 2019
    Stuart Carter says:
    Marti, I am so sorry for your loss. We at Habitat very much enjoyed working with you and Dewy and have missed you both. Please know that my thoughts are with you.

  • June 26, 2019
    Hamish Davidson says:
    A colleague, and mentor who became a great friend. I worked with Dewi for many years at BAE and initially butted heads with him as he was the head of sales and I was what he considered part of the anti-sales team which often opposed some of the rather "racy" deals that were put on the table. Later, I worked closer with Dewi following his retiral from BAE when he undertook a consulting project in Buenos Aires for the Company. I relished my regular visits to meet with him as notwithstanding the difficult issues at hand he made work and moreso the "after work" memorable. I shall always have very fond memories for Dewi and for the guidance he gave me over the years. A true character and a real gentleman who knew how to treat everyone from the CEO to the apprentice in exactly the same way and by doing this earned the respect of all those who had the pleasure to work with him and to call him a Friend. Your Kilted Friend Hamish

  • June 26, 2019
    Dr. Barbara Todd says:
    Francine and Family, So sorry to hear of your loss. Our thoughts and prayers are with you all.