The Virginia General Assembly has passed a joint resolution that notes “with great sadness the loss of Josiah Pollard Rowe III, an esteemed newspaper publisher, former Fredericksburg mayor, and environmental advocate.”
Rowe, former owner and publisher of The Free Lance–Star, died Nov. 3 at age 90.
The resolution’s patrons were Sen. Richard H. Stuart, R–Stafford; Sen. Bryce Reeves, R–Spotsylvania County; Del. Mark Cole, R–Spotsylvania; and Del. Bob Thomas, R-Stafford.
Rowe and his brother, Charles Rowe, took over management of The Free Lance–Star after their father died in 1949. Under their leadership, the newspaper’s circulation rose from about 6,000 subscribers to a high of 50,000 subscribers as a seven-day newspaper, and the business was expanded to include WFLS, WYSK, WWUZ, Print Innovators and fredericksburg.com. The newspaper and its printing plant are now owned by BH Media, and the radio stations have been sold.
The resolution said that the Rowe brothers “were not afraid to take bold, even unpopular stances in the newspaper when they believed those positions were ethical, just, and correct;” and paid their journalists enough to make their careers and raise their families in Fredericksburg.
It recognized Josiah Rowe as the fourth generation of his family to serve as mayor of Fredericksburg. In this post, he helped lead the peaceful integration of the city’s schools and workforce, and made the “trailblazing move” of having the city acquire land around the Rappahannock River to preserve it as a both a natural resource and the city’s water source.
Among other things, the resolution also acknowledged Rowe’s philanthropy, many leadership positions and his eye for detail.