Vernon "Fritz" Rowland, a pioneer in neuroscience research, died on March 3, 2006 at home in Cleveland Heights, Ohio at age 83. A graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Medical School, he served in the Army Medical Corp for two years, attaining the rank of Captain. After completing his residency in psychiatry at University Hospitals of Cleveland, Rowland joined the faculty of Case Western Reserve University Medical School where, as a Professor of Psychiatry, he conducted neuroscience research for 37 years with a goal to understanding the mind brain problem. He studied the brain waves of animals as they learned to anticipate emotionally arousing stimuli.
In 1954, Rowland was the first academician in the country to receive a National Institute of Mental Health grant for the pursuit of neuroscience research. He published 35 journal articles and book chapters, served as associate editor of the International Journal of Psychobiology, consultant to the National Institutes of Health and chair of the Neuropsychology Research Review Committee of the National Institute of Mental Health. He was also a fellow of the American Psychiatric Association. In 1969, he joined with others to found the Society for Neuroscience.
During his army service in Okinawa, Rowland studied oil painting with local artists, and used his artistic talents to design the first logo for the Society for Neuroscience. He was also an accomplished pianist and a prolific writer, leaving a large collection of letters, poems, essays, sermons and a one-act play in addition to his scholarly writing. He loved to promote among friends and family a plan to replace our current tax structure and redistribute wealth under a system he called "mandated philanthropy". In the sixties, he proposed that University Hospitals ban smoking and the sale of cigarettes on its premises. His proposal was immediately rejected as being an impermissible interference with individual rights. National newspapers and magazines published his letters on subjects as diverse as the arms race, the ballistics evidence in the John F. Kennedy assassination, and his design for a new calendar made up of 13 months, each month of exactly four seven-day weeks, with day 365 being a correction day.
Rowland was a trustee of the First Unitarian Church and founded the Social Responsibility Committee there in 1968. He was also co-chair of the Unitarian fellowship on Sanibel Island, Florida where he spent the winters following his retirement. Rowland gave guest sermons in Florida and Cleveland and also performed a wedding for his grandson. He served as a trustee of the Cleveland Memorial Society for over 20 years.
In recent years, Rowland organized groups to discuss philosophical and political issues, the one at Judson dubbed Geezer Gesellschaft. Along with other Judson residents, he helped launch Goldenark.com, a publisher of minibooks and music and published his own scholarly essay on the mind, distinguishing conceptions and perceptions as a means to understand our organization of time, space, selfhood and the flow of meaning.
Rowland was married for 53 years to Jean Lamming Rowland who died in 2002, and is survived by daughters Ann (Gordon Kinder), of Cleveland Heights, and Susan (Jesse Jones), of Cave Creek AZ, five grandchildren and one great-grandchild. A memorial service will be held on June 3, 2006 at 11:00 A.M. at the First Unitarian Church of Cleveland. In lieu of flowers, those who wish may donate to the Vernon Rowland Memorial Fund, Society for Neuroscience, 1121 14th St. N.W. Suite 1010, Washington D.C. 2005, Attn. Martin Sargesse.