Don and Jean Rowlett celebrated their 63rd anniversary Monday, Jan. 16. They celebrated with a trip to the Oregon Coast, and later to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, with family.
Their children are son Donald Rowlett (Denise Rowlett), of Ashland, daughter Jeanne Randall (Mark Randall) of Ashland, daughter Jennifer Hawk (Dave Hawk) of Fayetteville, Georgia, and Julie Ballon (Frederic Ballon) of Versailles, France. They have 10 grandchildren and 6 great-grandchildren.
Both born in Southern California during the Depression, Don and Jean each had a strong work ethic to overcome the struggles presented early in life from economic challenges that faced their families.
Don worked from an early age gleaning fields with his parents, and Jean, then Jean Gentine, did babysitting, ironing and housekeeping jobs in her neighborhood. Don got an after-school job when he was 15 at the Woolworth Company as a stock boy in west Los Angeles, where management took note of his hard work and eagerness. Jean took secretarial and office management classes in high school and later at a nearby community college, and began to work in the office of a yearbook company after high school.
They met through a mutual friend when Jean was 15. After several years of dating, Don proposed just before going into the U.S. Navy.
Don served in a Seabees unit just after the Korean War. After the Navy, they were married Jan. 16, 1954, in Van Nuys, California. Don continued his management training with Woolworth and rose through the company, serving more than 12 years as manager of stores in Hawaii and many years as regional manager of the Western U.S., until his final position as a vice president of Woolworth in its New York offices.
Jean spent her years helping Don and facilitating the dynamics of a loving and active home and raising their four children. In 1983, while leading a new division of Woolworth he helped create, the Woolco Company, Don was approached with an opportunity to begin a new company, Ross Dress for Less, where he developed the company model and launched the company, serving as the first president and CEO until 1989.
They moved fulltime to Oregon in 1989, where they had previously begun the Box R Ranch on the Greensprings 20 years earlier. Don became an avid rancher and farmer, both on the Greensprings and in Northern California, and engaged in many business and community endeavors in Klamath Falls.
After a visit to Israel in 1997, they built the Roman Road and the crosses at the Box R Ranch. During this time, Don and Jean also renovated and operated the Pinehurst Inn Restaurant, a previously abandoned roadside inn on Highway 66. In 2015, they sold the guest portion of the Box R Ranch, and are now enjoying life from just outside Jacksonville while assisting and watching their many children and grandchildren.