A memorial service will be held Wednesday, Dec. 29, for Dr. John Rohwer, chair of the St. Thomas Health and Human Performance Department, who died on Saturday after a fall from his roof while shoveling snow.
Rohwer, 64, will be buried Tuesday in Trimont, Minn. The memorial service will be at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday at King of Kings Lutheran Church, 2330 North Dale St., Roseville, with visitation from 3 to 6 p.m. at the church.
Family members said Rohwer was clearing snow from his roof on Friday, Christmas Eve, when he fell and landed on the driveway. He was taken to Regions Hospital in St. Paul but died on Christmas.
Rohwer joined St. Thomas in 2008 after 22 years in the Health and Physical Education Department at Bethel University, where he was a highly respected professor, scholar and campus leader. He also taught summers in the late 1980s and 1990s at Concordia University-St. Paul and Augsburg College.
At St. Thomas, he led the move of the Health and Human Performance Department from old O’Shaughnessy Hall to the new Anderson Athletic and Recreation Complex last September, and was involved in revising the department’s curriculum.
“John had a real passion for advancing student learning,” said Dr. Marisa Kelly, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, who hired him. “He brought a lot of enthusiasm to everything that he did, and he was incredibly committed to his students. He also was an accomplished scholar.”
Rohwer was born in Aberdeen, S.D., and grew up on a farm near Groton, S.D. He received an A.A. degree from Concordia in St. Paul, where he ran on the cross country and track teams and later was named to its Athletic Hall of Fame, and graduated in 1969 from Concordia College in River Forest, Ill., with a B.A. in health and physical education. He also held an M.A. in physical education from the University of Minnesota (1971) and an Ed.D. in health education from the University of Northern Colorado (1983).
He taught physical education and was the soccer, wrestling and track and field coach from 1969 to 1972 at Concordia in St. Paul, where he met his wife Marletta. They moved to Laramie, Wyo., where he taught at University Prep School (1972-1975) and the University of Wyoming (1972 to 1984). He taught at Texas Tech University from 1984 to 1986, when he joined the Bethel faculty. During more than two decades there, he developed a B.A. degree in school health education and a B.S. degree in community health education.
Since 1985, Rohwer had written six books or supplements, presented 40 papers at conferences, published 25 research articles and received a dozen grants for research projects. He was the lead researcher on a $3 million federal grant to St. Paul Public Schools in 2006-2008 to increase the amount of time that children in 24 elementary schools actively participated in physical activities and met state physical education standards.
Rohwer was active in the American and Minnesota Associations of Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance, receiving awards from its regional organization in 2003, 2005 and 2006, and was a member of the American and Minnesota School Health Associations. He had been co-director of the Minnesota School Health Education Conference, which he co-founded, since 1992.
He also had worked as a referee for high school and college basketball and high school football games since 1986. At King of Kings, he served on the lay ministry board and played trumpet in the band.
In addition to his wife, survivors include two sons, Brant and Jared; three grandchildren; his mother, Annabeth Rohwer; and three sisters, Joan Weismantel, Judy Windorski and Janet Harder. His father, Lawrence, preceded him in death.
Members of the St. Thomas community can contact Personal Counseling and Campus Ministry after the university reopens Jan. 3, and faculty and staff members also can contact the Employee Assistance Program.