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Local to be featured on ‘Today’
Turns 100 on Wednesday
100 years young 6 es
Pictures of Harold Rowe and his awards and plaques line the walls of his room. - photo by Emily Saunders
The birthday cards keep pouring in.

“He gets a pile like that every day,” Gary Colangelo said, pointing to the mass of colorful envelopes tipping over the edge of the bed.

His father-in-law, Harold Rowe, has some of his favorites taped up to a door in the bedroom.

For Rowe, the cards do more than just wish a happy day. They also thank him for a wonderful 100 years of life achievements.

The Forsyth County man will get a national birthday card of sorts Wednesday from Willard Scott on NBC’s “Today” as he celebrates his centenarian birthday.

Rowe’s photo will be shown on a Smuckers jar and Scott will tell a little about Rowe and his accomplishments sometime between 8 and 8:45 a.m.

His daughter Susan Colangelo sent in the request, which she plans to surprise her father with.

She was thrilled to learn that her dad would be featured on the show she watches each morning.

“He’s going to be shocked,” she said.

Rowe was selected for his notable lifetime and his residence in Georgia, from which the show doesn’t receive many requests, said Susan Colangelo.

He moved to Cumming a little more than three years ago after leaving his hometown of Wynantskill, N.Y., near Troy, where he spent the first 96 years.

He was a leader in the community, where he ran a dry cleaning business and later served for the sheriff’s office.

“Harold Rowe is a landmark in Troy,” Gary Colangelo said. “He’s touched a lot of people in his life over 100 years.”

Wanting to remain modest, Rowe tried to downplay many of his achievements that had caused people he didn’t even know to send him birthday cards.

He started an ambulance service in Wynantskill after seeing a photograph in the newspaper of a young girl badly wounded, her mother begging for help.

He personally took the emergency calls for three hospitals in 1942.

“All the men had gone to war,” Rowe said. “I had just come out of the hospital with this big operation. I figured as long as I couldn’t get in the service, I’d start this ambulance because there was nobody there to do it.”

After leaving the dry cleaning business, Rowe brought his passion for photography to his work for the police. He saw many unusual things taking photos of fatality scenes and helping with autopsies at the hospital.

Even though most officers are required to retire at 70, he got a special extension to stay on a few extra years.

“I had a very active life,” he said. “And I’ve been a very busy man.”

Rowe was involved in the Troy Lodge of Elks, the National Rifle Association and the Boy Scouts of America, but his favorite hobby was showing horses with his three daughters.

One of his greatest accomplishments, he said, was 76 years of marriage to his wife Julia, who passed away at age 97, shortly after the move to Georgia.

Susan Colangelo said she and her husband lived next door to her parents for most of their lives before heading South to be near their children.
Rowe and his wife moved in with them when they came to Georgia.

His room is filled with photographs, drawings and plaques to remind him of his full life in New York, as well as photos of his grandchildren and 15 great grandchildren.

He’ll have two birthday celebrations in March, one in Georgia at the neighborhood clubhouse and a larger open house celebration in the Wynantskill town hall.

Rowe didn’t think there was any secret to his long life.

“It was just lucky,” he said. “You can’t figure it out. I never abused myself. I always took very good care of myself and worked hard.”