Monday, February 4, 2013

Ash Rowell - the hardest hue to hold

Nature's first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf's a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf,
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.
--Robert Frost

Whether you've lived in Houston for a week, a year, or longer, you know Ash Rowell.  The name doesn't sound familiar?  How about Flying Saucer, Hay Merchant, Rudyard's, Gingerman's, Petrol Station, Stag's Head,  Liberty Station, Anvil, O'Bannon's, Glass Wall?  Or Spec's or HEB?  All these bars and stores and more have Ash Rowell in common. Still not sure he's familiar?  How about Southern Star's Bombshell Blonde, or Bear Republic's Racer 5, or Houston's own Leprechaun Cider?  Brew Dog, Wasatch Beers, Clown Shoes, NoLabel, Cedar Creek Brewery, Silly, Indian Wells?  If you've ever tasted one of these beers or ciders, then raise your glass to Ash Rowell.  He was instrumental in bringing craft brews to Houston through his distributing company. He worked long and hard, and I saw him more than one time with loaded dolly and truck, at various of Texquiem's favorite nooks and crannies.  He built his company through a lot of sweat, enthusiasm, appreciation of craft brew, and, even more, an outsized heart. Seems like Ash never met a man he didn't like.  And seems like we liked Ash right back.  Ash Rowell is one of those few you meet who is truly *golden.*

The mainstream news and other blogs have picked up the terrible news already.  On Friday, Ash was killed at his own front door.  Shot, not randomly.  Seems likely the killer knew him, which makes it all the more incomprehensible.  I can't bear to re-post it all. . . here is the Chronicle, here is the local television news, here is reaction from some of the craft brew community.

Ash is--was--a spectacularly good-hearted man.  A friend, a true friend, to many.  The contribution he made as a businessman has far-reaching roots, yes.  But his legacy in our craft brew community is surpassed by Ash the husband, father, and son. 

It is clear that Ash's ebullient character came from close to home.  Many won't be surprised to know that he was a fine cook, an inclination and ability from his family.  I've heard that his mom once hosted a cooking show.  With the Rowells a few more at the table has never been a problem.  Surely Ash got his loyalty and dedication from his father, a distinguished man.  All of this made Ash one of the finest husbands and fathers ever.  With easy-going grace, he and his wife have been raising three sweetheart children.  They all have been active in so many communities: church, Little League (Ash coached and sponsored the team), Boy Scouts, the elementary where Ash and his wife are both volunteers, a parent-led cooperative pre-school, a tight-knit neighborhood.  Where so many parents are heads-down over an i-phone, semi-oblivious to their kids, Ash was heads-up and hands-on.  All our communities will work hard to make sure that these three children remember all that was golden about their father.  And for his wife--she is such a good person, and she's as talented as Ash in reaching out and making true friends.  They are a good pair, and her love for him runs so deeply.  Our communities are here to catch her and the whole family from falling. 

I'm sure so many are remembering their last time with Ash.  It feels like I saw him just a few days ago.  He was chasing around his itty-bitty toddler, who was oh-so-independent until anyone but daddy tried to hug on her.  In typical Ash fashion, his thoughts and good wishes were with me and my family.  He hugged me, and laughed, and told me that I was awesome.  No, Ash, you are awesome. 

This past weekend has been a heavy one for all of us who know and love the Rowells.  We told my finicky children, but how do you find the right way to explain something so absolutely senseless?  We didn't share the details, of course, but they needed to hear it from us first--not the TV or from a random someone.  I watched the same shock that I'd felt fly over the face of my little girl.  My little boy couldn't absorb it--how can he, when we can't?  My little girl cried and cried and lamented loss of "her" Ash.  My little boy sucked it all into his chest--which may be worse than if he'd bawled, given his sleepless nights that followed.  We feel robbed of Ash.  We feel like some our children's innocence has been robbed, too. 

If you are also Ash's friend, or just empathize or share his interests, remembrances in his honor are going to the Neartown Church (, the Alzheimers Foundation, or the Texas Children's Pediatric Cancer Center. 

Ash Rowell was Will Rogers-esque.  He set a big table and friends were always welcome.  Days of stress or worry--and there were such days--hardly altered his outward affability.  He was an unfailingly dedicated father.  He loved his wife.  He was a good son.  He was golden.  To my terrible regret, it is true that nothing gold can stay.


  1. Very well put. Ash had a contagious smile. I only meet him on a few occasions, being a childhood friend of Leslie's. But he always, made me feel like we had know each other our whole lives, too! My heart is breaking for this beautiful family. Such a senseless loss of a wonderful man, husband, and father!

  2. the last memory I have of Ash Rowell was of him on Halloween, where he was dressed as the Stay-Puffed Marshmallow Man and his family were the Ghostbusters. He was so funny and puffy, and he played with all us kids. He took us trick-or-treating. He will always be in my heart as my Marshmallow Man!

  3. Thanks so much for writing and sharing of your friendship with my second cousin. I never got to know him due to the distance -- them living in Texas and us living in Georgia. It was a lovely tribute and I pray that others will connect up and write up stories and perhaps get them to the family so his children will have that part of the legacy of his life! Thanks again for sharing -- it make me smile and lifted me up during this dark time for the family. (K. Giles Adams)

  4. I miss Ash and even the smallest thought of him makes me cry. I'm so devastated for his family, how do they survive.

  5. when I met Stella I thought she was a sensational baby and my heart is breaking for her family and father. I wish she had much more journeys with her father.

  6. We all miss Ash and hope that the little children can take the memories they have and keep them for the rest of their lives

  7. Still miss Ash and feel especially sorry for his widow and children. I'd like to think that Ash's mom just went bat-shit crazy after his death, but sadly see her animus and grasping as deeply-rooted. However long she's been this manipulative, Charlotte has done her best to make the nightmare all the worse for Ash's wife and family. My continued condolences to Lesli and the kids.

  8. Another year, and Charlotte remains true to form. Spent this year trying to take Ash's grave site from his wife and kids and lying about it. Making potshots against that little family as often as someone will give the old airbag some facetime. Still trying to reduce Ash's role in his own company to just "the face of the company" and some unpaid employee. We officially get it, lady! You hate Ash's widow, you don't care about his children, and you want to keep every red cent Ash made for his company!