Community Heroes: Chuck Rowe helps organizations that help children
In his decades in the legal profession, La Jolla resident Chuck Rowe has dedicated his life to helping children or the organizations that support them.
Touted as “one of the kindest human beings” by his partner, Raja Iglewicz, Rowe has been working in La Jolla for the past 50 years to help nonprofits — many of which help children’s causes — get legal footing and/or serve as acting counsel for them.
Before starting his legal practice, Rowe was a probation officer for many years and was on the bench as a Juvenile Court referee in San Diego County Superior Court.
“I have many years of experience working with troubled children,” he said. “That experience [showed me] that you can help them mature when they are at a young age so they can be helpful members of society. That background evolved to business law and being able to help those that own businesses. … I can still work with those that help children.”
Rowe is now general counsel for about 100 closely held corporations, limited liability companies and nonprofit organizations.
The nonprofit Learning Equality, for which Rowe is a founding member and general counsel, formed 10 years ago and concentrates on providing tablet computers loaded with educational programs for children in third-world countries.
“In third-world countries, they don’t always have internet, so the children are disadvantaged,” Rowe said. “We can provide tablets for $75 each and we use … a file server that teachers can upload lessons and assignments to the tablets, and then they can learn math or other subjects. That started small and has grown to 20 employees, and we’re in 216 countries and territories and material has been translated to 250 languages worldwide. It’s an amazing thing.”
Rowe helped another client in forming an organization similar to Doctors Without Borders but for nurses.
“There are a lot of nurses that want to travel to do medical work around the world but they don’t have the financial resources to do that,” Rowe said. “This was set up so people could donate to the nonprofit, so when there is a nurse to support a medical effort in another country, they can afford to do that.”
Another nonprofit he helped set up, inspired by a similar organization in Australia, helps children who have been trafficked. “This is a problem all over the world, so it was nice to help them form this nonprofit in the United States,” he said.
But at age 91, Rowe said it’s time to start shifting into retirement. “I’m not taking in any new clients, and only going into the office once or twice a week,” he said.
In retirement, he and Iglewicz plan to continue to travel, Rowe said. The two just celebrated three years together as life partners.
“In the last few months, we spent some time in Colorado going through the Rockies ... and to Alaska with two of our daughters,” Rowe said. “Our next trip is to Peru. There is a rainforest that is a national park, and we want to see it this summer.”
Each has two children (who have entered fields such as rocket science, teaching and medicine), some grandchildren and even great-grandchildren, “even though I’m too young to be a great-grandfather,” Rowe joked.
Though he has spent decades helping other people’s children around the world, he is most proud of the success of his own children.
“Our most important accomplishment in our lives is our children,” he said. “If you raised children and they did well, there isn’t much that is more important than that.”
The La Jolla Light’s Community Heroes series for the holiday period highlights people who aren’t often in the news but make a difference in the lives of others. If you know such a person, email Editor Rob Vardon at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please limit suggestions to people who live or work in La Jolla or otherwise have strong ties to the community. ◆
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