Sarah Rowan

Celebration of Life

11:00 am - 12:00 pm
Friday, July 14, 2023
St. John's United Methodist Church
104 Newberry St. NW
Aiken, South Carolina, United States

Obituary of Sarah McRae Rowan

Please share a memory of Sarah to include in a keepsake book for family and friends.

Sarah McRae Rowan of Ashland, Ohio and Aiken, South Carolina transitioned peacefully on Monday evening, May 29, 2023, at the age 85, in the comfort of her Aiken home surrounded by her family.

The daughter of Adrian Bannerman and Laelia Pate McRae, she and her twin sister Mary were born on January 16, 1938, in Lumberton, North Carolina.  Sarah graduated from East Carolina University with a degree in elementary education and began her teaching career at an American school in Kaiserslautern, Germany.  It’s here she met her husband of 41 years, Dr. Joseph Edward Rowan who was also teaching in Germany. They were married in Lucerne, Switzerland.

After leaving Europe, and after the birth of their children, Walter and Melissa, the family moved to Ashland, Ohio in 1969, where Sarah continued her career as a first-grade teacher at her beloved Lincoln Elementary School, where her devotion and love of all children, earned her the title of Teacher of the Year numerous times. Her connections with many of her first-grade students lasted her lifetime. She served on many committees and countless educational organizations throughout her 35-year professional career until her retirement in 1992.

Sarah was an active member of the Ashland community.  She was a member of the First United Methodist Church and later attended the Trinity Lutheran Church.  She founded the Ashland Women’s Symphony League, was a strong supporter of The Ashland University Ashbrook Scholars program, served on the Ashland Historical Society, and The Center Street Historic District Association.  She was instrumental in bringing the Salvation Army Kroc Center to the community and remained a champion to that cause throughout her life.

Upon retiring, Sarah stepped into her new role as caregiver to her sweetheart, Joseph who had been diagnosed far too early with Alzheimer’s. As she joined her husband as “he walked with forgetfulness” she used this journey to become fiercely committed to the illness by serving on The National Alzheimer’s Association, thus speaking to congressional leaders in Washington DC and other organizations around the world.  Her “Courage to Care” inspirational talks, based on her life experience as a caregiver led her to creating global lifelong friendships, and therefore serving on The Eden Alternative Board, AARP, and countless others.

Balancing time between her Ashland and Aiken homes, she collaborated with the Aiken Center for the Arts starting “Joy in the Journey” a program connecting artists with Alzheimer’s patients, offering hope through art. She was beyond thankful for her Aiken friends, her weekly Ann Campbell Bible Study group, St. John’s Methodist Church family, and her beloved Sand River family of neighbors.  


Sarah treasured time with her family.  She spent endless hours exploring Hitchcock Woods, and Hopeland Gardens with her grandchildren creating lifelong memories with them. Encouraged them to give back by helping her “grands” raise money for Aiken’s Child Advocacy; setting up lemonade stands and tie dying tee-shirts to benefit the cause. She especially loved cherished beach time spent together at their Litchfield by the Sea family home.  

She is survived by her children, son Walter McRae Rowan (Laura), daughter Sarah Melissa Rowan Hiner (Eric), and four grandchildren: Palmer McRae Rowan, Pate McRae Rowan, Rowan McRae Hiner, and Phoebe Elizabeth Hiner.

She was preceded in death by her granddaughter Sarah McLaurin Hiner, 2000, her husband Joseph Edward Rowan, 2003, her twin sister Mary McRae Lee, 2018, and her sister Doris McRae Moore, 2023.

In celebrating her life, we remember her gracious gift of storytelling, “whoever you are…another’s journey touches yours, though you will never meet most of your traveling companions, how you make your journey, and how they’re making theirs, alters yours.  You may choose to share your journey, but making the journey count is what some people say, is the meaning to life.”


Sarah Rowan’s greatest legacy is her love for her family.  A cherished wife, beloved mother, and devoted grandmother.  She touched countless lives, blessed many, and made a profound difference.  She was a committed warrior of faith and loved her Lord. A trusted and faithful friend, God’s wondrous love radiated from every part of Sarah, but especially in her genuine love and compassion for others.

Her wisdom, smile, laughter, and amazing spirit will be missed…

Celebration of Life service will be held in Aiken, South Carolina at St. John’s United Methodist Church on Friday, July 14, 2023, at 11 am.  The family will visit with friends immediately following the service outside around the church fountain. 

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to either the Alzheimer’s Association,; or Aiken Center for the Arts – “Joy in the Journey,” www.

The Historic George Funeral Home & Cremation Center, 211 Park Ave., SW, Aiken, SC 29801 (803.649.6234), has charge of arrangements.

Expressions of sympathy for the family may be left by visiting

Share Your Memory of