Born in New York City, February 1, 1920, Roy Rowan was raised in Manhattan's Greenwich Village.  At the age of 12, he began writing, editing, and publishing a four-page, mimeographed neighborhood newspaper, a venture that sparked an ambition to become a journalist.  Rowan graduated from Dartmouth College in 1941, and received his MBA from Dartmouth's Amos Tuck School of Business in April 1942.  Drafted into the US Army the following month, one of this first duties was to escort Italian Prisoners of War back from North Africa on an Army Liberty ship. He later spent two years serving in New Guinea and the Philippines, before mustering out of the service as a major in February, 1946.

In 1946, unable to secure a job as a foreign correspondent, Rowan joined the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration (UNRRA) during the Chinese Civil War between Mao Zedong's Communists and Chiang Kai-shek's Nationalists.  There he also began photographing and writing freelance articles about the conflict, sending his pictures and articles back to major magazines in the United States in the hope of establishing himself as a journalist.  Frustrated by the lack of response, he decided to return to the U.S. Shortly before leaving Shanghai in December 1947, the Time-Life bureau chief approached him and informed him that Life magazine had printed several of his photographs and asked if Rowan could write an article on the war in Henan Province.  The next month, Life hired him as their China and Southeast Asia correspondent.  Rowan then covered all the major battles of China's Civil War leading up to the fall of Shanghai in May 1949. Following the Communist takeover, Rowan served as Life bureau chief in Hong Kong, Rome, Tokyo (mainly as a war correspondent in Korea), Bonn (covering the Cold War in Europe), and Chicago. During that last assignment, he traveled around the country for a month with Jimmy Hoffa, the notorious Teamster boss, for an exclusive three-part series on the all-powerful, but corrupt labor union.

In 1961 Rowan was transferred to New York City and appointed Life’s assistant managing editor in charge of the magazine’s worldwide news coverage. When JFK was assassinated in 1963, he was having lunch with the company’s editor-in-chief, Henry Luce, who ordered him to fly out to the printing plant in Chicago to stop the presses and remake the magazine, using the now-famous Zapruder film that pictured the actual shooting of the president.

In 1969, Rowan began working with Time Inc. on his proposal for a new waterfront magazine. When Time's financial backing of the magazine fell through, Rowan left Time Inc., and joined by nine other investors to found Seascape Publications in 1970 - Rowan serving as both President of the newly-formed company and Editor of On The Sound Magazine. In November 1972, Universal Publishing acquired On The Sound, and Rowan returned to Time as its bureau chief in Hong Kong - covering China, Thailand, Indonesia, Australia, New Zealand, Cambodia, and Vietnam.  Rowan was evacuated from Saigon on one of the last helicopters in April 1975.  He then wrote his first book, The Four Days of Mayaguez, in 1975.

In 1977, Rowan left Time and became a senior writer for Fortune Magazine.  Between then and his retirement in 1985, he wrote more than 65 major articles for the magazine, including an exclusive 15-page report on the “Top 50 Mafia Bosses in America.”.  He "retired" in 1985 but continued to write two or three Fortune articles a year, as well as his second book, The Intuitive Manager in 1986.  A Day in the Life of Italy, a project Rowan co-edited, was released in 1990.  In the book, 100 photographers shooting at different locations around Italy, recorded in detail what happened over a 24-hour period on April 27, 1990. In January of that same year, Rowan spent two freezing weeks on the streets of New York City living as a homeless man for a 10-page eyewitness report in People. His bylined articles, besides those in Time, Life, and Fortune, have appeared in Smithsonian, the Atlantic Monthly (a 6,000-word report on his own battle with cancer), Reader’s Digest, and the New Republic.

His third book, Powerful People, was published in 1996, followed closely by First Dogs: American Presidents and Their Best Friends in 1997. It was made into a one-hour documentary and aired on the Discovery Channel.  Rowan wrote the narration for actor Kelsey Grammar.  A year later, his fifth book, Surfcaster's Quest, a return to Rowan's passions - the waterfront and fishing - was published.  In 2003, Rowan published his first work of fiction, Solomon Starbucks Striper: A Fish Story About Following Your Dreams.  His seventh book, Chasing the Dragon: A Veteran Journalist's Firsthand Account of the 1946-1949 Chinese Revolution, was published in 2004 and has been optioned in Hollywood for a feature film.  His eighth book, Throwing Bullets: A Tale of Two Pitchers Chasing the Dream was published in 2006. His ninth book, Never Too Late: A 90-Year-Old's Pursuit of a Whirlwind Life, was published in 2012.

Rowan has served as President of the Overseas Press Club of America, the Time-Life Alumni Society, and the Dutch Treat Club, a 100-year-old organization for members of the arts. In 1995 Rowan received an honorary doctorate from Hartwick College in Oneonta, New York.  The archives there have now acquired all of his papers and photographs.  Rowan recently received the 2006 Henry R. Luce Award from Time Inc. for lifetime achievement in journalism.  He and his wife, Helen Rounds Rowan, live in Greenwich, CT and Block Island, RI. In July 2012, AARP featured them in the article "Married 60 Years: What's Their Secret?" They have four sons, Dana, Douglas, Nicholas, and Marcus.

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