Holsey Temple CME (Pa.) Honors Othie Lee Rowser
— 100th Birthday Celebration —Philadelphia, PA—Mrs. Othie Lee Rowser, affectionately known as “Lee Mama” celebrated her 100th Birthday on February 2, 2014.
Mrs. Rowser was born in Madisonville, Kentucky, on February 2, 1914. She attended the public schools there and graduated from the Ross Delmont High School. Her church membership was with the Wesley Chapel CME church.
The family moved north and settled in Philadelphia, Pa, where she furthered her education at the Apex School of Cosmetology graduating as a licensed Cosmetologist. She met and married Harold C. Rowser and they were blessed with one son, Lendal Alvin Rowser Sr. (deceased) and one daughter Wilma Rowser Byrd.
Mrs. Rowser was employed with the Lord and Taylor Company and retired in 1976 after 21 years of service. She has been an active member of Holsey Temple church for 84 years, after joining in 1930 under the pastorate of Rev. J.A. Walker.
She was selected “Mother of the Year” in 1989, and honored by the Holsey Temple family for over 50 years of service. The late Bishop Thomas L. Hoyt Jr., honored her in 2007, as part of a group of church members 80 years and over.
Surrounded by many church members, family and friends, the celebration was held in the James Arthur Jones Fellowship Hall of the church. The weather during that week had been cold and stormy, but we were blessed with a beautiful, sunny day for the celebration.
The Fellowship Hall was colorfully and elegantly decorated with balloons, the tables were covered in gold and white tablecloths, with gold centerpieces. Every guest received a heart shaped keepsake filled with chocolate candy. Some of the men of the church served as waiters dressed in black suits with black bowties.
Albert P. Black Jr., who served as Master of Ceremonies, set a fitting tone in his opening remarks when he said “Today may be Super Bowl Sunday, but today we are having a “Super Birthday” celebration. Rev. Williams, Pastor at Holsey provided the Table Blessing , noting that we have an awesome God who provided Mrs. Rowser with long life, and prayed that she will continue to be active and involved at Holsey. Referring to the honoree, Rev. Alfred W. Jones Jr. read from Proverbs 31, verse 10 when it states..."Who can find a virtuous woman, for her price is far above rubies..."
Jadyn Henderson welcomed all the guests, saying “we have all been touched” by Ms. Rowser. This was followed by “The Lord’s Prayer” sung by the rich and stirring soprano voice of Tanya Olivia Thompson.
Mrs. Bessie Williams, Mrs. Rowser’s sister, told of the families’ beginnings in the coal-mining town of Madisonville where they grew up. She described how the family migrated to Philadelphia and continued the CME tradition by joining Holsey Church. Like her sister, Mrs. Williams has also been blessed with longevity: She will be 98 years old in July, has been a longtime member of Holsey, and held membership on many boards and organizations.
Their parents were Rev. Ebenezer and Mary Merritt. Theirs is an amazing family history. Rev. Merritt was an associate pastor at Holsey. He was 87 yrs old when he passed and Mrs. Merritt was 99 when she died. Mrs. Merritt’s sister, Mrs. Annie Christian died at the age of 103. Mrs. Christian was also a member of Wesley Chapel in Madisonville, and has a day named in her honor.
Mrs. Alma Cooper, President of the Cathedral Choir, congratulated Mrs. Rowser as an Emeritus member, having served for 60 years, as a dedicated and committed member, and that it was a blessing to know her smile that exuded a special kind of love. Mrs, Elizabeth Truesdale, Stewardess Board President, presented Mrs. Rowser, with a plaque citing her 50 years’ service as a Stewardess that we are “all standing on your shoulders”, and it was an honor to be in her presence. Dr. Judith Grant, Missionary President, paid homage to Mrs. Rowser, saying that she truly exemplified the Missionary Spirit, by unselfishly taking on responsibilities. She gave $100 to the Lena Jones Rice March for more than 30 years in memory of her son, Lendal. She also serves as the Hunger Meals for Millions Secretary, mentored new members, and regularly attends all meetings.
Rev. Williams then led the audience in singing Stevie Wonder’s version of “Happy Birthday” then sang “He’s The One” as a loving testimony to Mrs. Rowser, describing her as an excellent church member in every way. She taught us to celebrate life, and that he was proud to have her family as members.
Mrs. Carol Henderson read a Proclamation from the office of PA Governor Tom Corbett, extending congratulations and well wishes.
Mrs. Rowser’s remarks were very brief—saying merely—“I am blessed…” Several in the audience responded back “And we are blessed because of you…”
Her daughter Wilma Rowser Byrd, was the final speaker on the program. Mrs. Byrd has been a devoted, and loving caregiver and companion to her mother and aunt, and was the organizer of this wonderful occasion. She expressed her delight towards all who shared this special day with her mother and thanked every one who took part in it.
Mrs Rowser is a strong Christian woman who believes that prayer and a strong faith in God is the foundation for building a Christ- centered life. Her favorite scripture verse is from Romans 8:31, “What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?
Submitted by Eva Grant, Holsey Temple CME, Philadelphia, Pa.