Amanda Charles Long Rowe

PORTLAND -- Amanda Charles (Long) Rowe, 58, died in Portland on July 14, 2013, from metastatic breast cancer.

Amanda had a 30 year career as a school nurse and school nurse coordinator with Portland Public Schools. She was a passionate and tireless advocate for children and families.

Born on Sept. 11, 1954, in Akron, Ohio, to Frank and Mary (Parker) Long, Amanda grew up in a military family. Her father's assignments took Amanda's family to live in such places as South Vietnam and Denmark, which sparked her love of travel.

When she was 10, her family settled in South Portland. After graduating from South Portland High School, Amanda attended the University of Maryland on a Walter Reed Army Institute of Nursing scholarship. Following graduation, she served as an Army nurse and advanced nurse practitioner at Fort Knox, Ky., and Fort Bragg, N.C.

After leaving active duty, she continued serving in the Army Reserve and was briefly called to active duty during the First Gulf War. After 20 years of military service, Amanda retired as a Lieutenant Colonel.

Amanda met her husband Steve at Fort Bragg. They were married and left the active Army in 1981. They settled, with Steve's three young children, in Portland, where she helped raise Angela, Christopher and Robert.

After teaching pediatric nursing at Westbrook College for two years, Amanda began what was to be a 30 year career with Portland Public Schools. She first worked as a health teacher and later as a school nurse and school nurse coordinator. Along the way, she earned two graduate degrees from the University of Southern Maine.

Amanda had great passion for school nursing. She was the school nurse at Hall Elementary School in Portland for more than two decades. She loved children and it was clear they loved her. She worked to ensure that every child felt special and safe. In her role as coordinator of school nursing services in Portland, she spent countless hours - often during evenings and weekends - organizing flu clinics, screenings and other health services. She also helped to establish school-based health clinics to ensure all children had access to health services. Finally, Amanda provided support and guidance to school nurses across the state and often helped organize and present at state conferences.

The highlight of Amanda's life was giving birth to her daughter, Lindsay, in 1984. The two were more than mother and daughter; they were inseparable friends. They enjoyed exploring new places and took many trips together across the U.S., Canada and Europe. They particularly enjoyed visiting art museums and historical sites.

Amanda's life was one of selfless and devoted service to others. One of her favorite sayings was 'To bring about justice, deal with what's in front of you.' And that's just what she did. Undaunted by obstacles and controversy, she consistently and courageously advocated for public policies to protect the health of children and other vulnerable populations. Through her actions, she inspired others to act.

Amanda savored each and every day of her life and had no regrets. She focused energy on things that most mattered to her - particularly family and friends. She was fun, witty and creative. People were drawn to her because of her exuberant spirit, warm personality and genuine interest in them. She took friendships seriously and protected and nurtured them. She was a talented photographer and would often make photo books and cards for friends to commemorate trips and special occasions.

Amanda loved communing with nature. She enjoyed camping and hiking throughout New England. She walked the northernmost 100 miles of the Appalachian Trail. Her favorite place was Baxter State Park. For over 25 years, Amanda camped, hiked and volunteered in Baxter. After her latest cancer diagnosis, Amanda was determined to hike across the Grand Canyon and did so - not once, but twice.

Amanda had a brilliant mind and was a voracious reader. She loved acquiring new knowledge and was an expert on diverse subjects, ranging from art history, to old Maine logging equipment to bird and tree species. She particularly enjoyed gardening, raising chickens, perusing bookstores and having tea with friends.

During the past 15 years, Amanda devoted considerable time caring for her ailing parents as well as other relatives. During the final stages of her own illness, Amanda continued to display her trademark courage and dignity. She expressed concern and compassion for others, rather than feel anger or self-pity.

Amanda Rowe's life was a selfless journey of giving. The world is a better place because of her uncommon kindness and courage.

Amanda was a member of St. Ansgar Lutheran Church in Portland.

She is survived by her husband Steve and daughter Lindsay Rowe (Portland); her step-sons, Robert Rowe (Portland) and Chris Rowe (Tulsa, Okla.), and her step-daughter, Angela Mallory and her husband Steve and two children, Alexandria and Jacob (Bixby, Okla.). Amanda is also survived by her mother, Mary Long (Portland); two sisters, Cathy Long (Portland) and Linda Long (Washington, D.C.), and brother, Mark Long (Tempe, Ariz.).

A memorial service celebrating Amanda's life will be held at the Cathedral Church of Saint Luke on 143 State St. in Portland on Wednesday, July 24, at 2 p.m.

It was Amanda's wish that, in lieu of flowers, donations be made to:
The Maine Early Learning Investment Fund
Care of Maine Community Foundation
1 Monument Square
Portland, Maine 04101
and/or Shalom House, Inc.
106 Gilman St.
Portland, Maine 04102

Published in Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram on July 16, 2013