Cyril (Cy) Rowsell, DSC

NL GenWeb

Reproduced with permission from The Beacon November 1, 2004
Written by: Columnist Frank Tibbo
Contributed by Carol Walsh.

Cyril (Cy) Rowsell, DSC

Rowsell Boulevard, the major street in Spruce Court, was named to honour Cy Rowsell. Approximately one month ago on October 5, Mr. Rowsell passed away at the age of 81. Mr. Rowsell, who was born in Millertown Junction, was mainly known in Gander because of his involvment with Air Traffic Control. He didnít start his career with that in mind, in fact, when he travelled to St. Johnís after finishing high school, he had never heard of air traffic control. A few years ago, I had the honour of interviewing him for a local television program. He laughed as he told about a high paying job he had to quit.He had finished a commercial course at St. Johnís and applied for a job in Millertown counting lumber. He was successful in obtaining the position at $100 per month, not a small amount in the late thirties. His mother would have none of it. She insisted he take a job befitting his education. He acquiesced and applied for an office job with T & M Winter. Again, he was successful in obtaining the position - $30 per month.The Second World War had begun and Cy Rowsell volunteered. He was trained as a wireless operator and air gunner. By the time he was posted overseas, he had been promoted to the rank of Sergeant. He served five and one half years and completed 57 operations with Bomber Command. By the time the war ended, he had obtained the rank of Flight Lieutenant and had been awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC). He was also involved with ferrying aircraft across the North Atlantic while serving with the RAF Transport Command.

His last wartime assignments were sometimes on this side of the Atlantic. Flight Lieutenant Rowsell was sent to Montreal as part of a flight test crew. Their job was to certify that ferry aircraft were fully operational prior to the Atlantic crossing. Later he was selected as part of a crew that transported VIPs.

After the war, Mr. Rowsell applied for two jobs, one with CBC in New Brunswick and the other in Gander Air Radio with civil aviation. He got the CBC job but shortly after was offered the position in Gander. Goodbye CBC!
The national radio station couldnít compete with Mr. Rowsellís love for Newfoundland rivers and woods. He work as a radio operator supervisor until the RCAF transferred the control tower operations back to civil aviation. Mr. Rowsell transferred to air traffic control and remained there the remainder of his working life.Mr. Rowsell eventually became Chief of the Gander Area Control Centre and over the years helped create what a lot of pilots consider to be one of the best area control centre in the world. During his 18 years as manager of the Unit, he guided the development of procedures and standards for aircraft flying the North Atlantic.

A particular challenge was the development of new procedures and standards when the new procedures and standards when the new jets (B-707 and DC-8) started to replace the propeller aircraft in 1958. Later, further challenges were made by the development of the supersonic Concorde, and Gander, led by Mr. Rowsell, wrote another chapter in the book of North Atlantic Aviation.

Mr. Rowsell contributed considerably to the Town of Gander and served on numerous boards. At various times, he chaired the hospital board, school board and was active with the Royal Canadian Legion. He also worked with Edgar Baird in establishing that area of what is now Memorial Drive and then referred to as Beaverwood as a Veteranís Land Act (VLA) area.Mr. Rowsell was a true pioneer of Gander and a respect war hero.

OBITUARY (as appeared in The Beacon)

ROWSELL, Cyril R. ĖPassed peacefully away on October 5, 2004 at the Dr. Hugh Twomey Health Care Centre, Cyril R. Rowsell, DFC, aged 81 years. Predeceased by his wife, Isobel (nee Woolley), brother, Augustus and sister, Annette Snow. Left to mourn with fond and loving memories are his daughter, Jane (Maxwell Bussey) of Gander, NL; grandchildren, Christina (Glen) Oake of Botwood, NL and Heather (Jason) Evans of St. Johnís, NL; and sister, Marjorie (Leslie) Hiltz of Ottawa, ON. Funeral service took place on October 7th at St. Martinís Anglican Church, Gander with interment at All Saints Cemetery, Gander. Donations in Mr. Rowsellís memory can be made to the Dialysis Fund of the Central Northeast Health Foundation, Gander. Funeral Arrangements entrusted to the care of Staceyís Funeral Home, Gander

© 2004 Carol Walsh and NL GenWeb