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Published: Saturday, 6/29/2002

Grocer enjoyed travel, reading

TECUMSEH, Mich. - James Walter “Walt” Rowley, manager of a Kroger grocery store here for more than 30 years, died of a heart attack Thursday at Community Health Partners Hospital in Lorain, Ohio. He was 83.

Mr. Rowley of Tecumseh was a lifelong resident of the area. He graduated from Adrian High School in 1936 and went to work for Kroger Co.

He worked in management at stores in Adrian and Dundee before moving in the 1960s to Tecumseh, where he managed a store for more than 30 years.

“He loved his job,” his wife, Peggy, said. “He loved being around people.”

Mr. Rowley was a good businessman and was respected by his employees, his wife said. He retired in 1980 and the store has since closed.

An avid fiction reader, Mr. Rowley sometimes completed several books a week. He also enjoyed watching old movies.

Playing the slot machines in casinos was another of Mr. Rowley's favorite pastimes. He often went to Soaring Eagle casino in Mount Pleasant, Mich., and to other casinos in the Midwest.

“He was very lucky. He won all the time,” his stepdaughter, Lisa Alexander, said. “If he won at the quarter machines, he'd always move on to the dollar slots.”

Mr. Rowley and his wife traveled all over the country, including visits to Alaska and Hawaii. One of his favorite places to visit was a lake house in Vermilion, Ohio, owned by one of his stepdaughters.

“He loved to sit on the porch and watch the water,” his wife said. “He was so happy there.”

Mr. Rowley, a member of St. Elizabeth Catholic Church in Tecumseh, enjoyed spending time with his family. His great-grandchildren “brightened up his life,” his stepdaughter said.

He married Cleo Reynolds in 1938. She died in 1978.

Surviving are his wife of 23 years, Peggy; daughter, Gloria Jean Zimmer; stepdaughters, Sandy Tusick, Rita Thomas, Lisa Alexander, and Lynda Mazzurco; brother, Robert; sisters, Clara Dickinson and Joyce Jewell; 15 grandchildren, and eight great-grandchildren.

Services will be at 10 a.m. today at St. Elizabeth Catholic Church, where the body will be one hour before services. Couture-Handler Funeral Home, Tecumseh, is handling the arrangements.

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