Helen Baker Rowe

 Page 621-623 - Mrs. Helen Baker Rowe is a talented musician who has wielded much influence in advancing cultural interests in her native city, especially those pertaining to the "divine art" of music. As a pianist her fame is more than local, and she has appeared as accompanist with many leading vocalists and other concert artists, the while she has gained rank as one of the leading music instructors in Grand Rapids, where she was born and where she received her early education and where she stands as a popular representative of one of the old and honored pioneer families of Kent county. Mrs. Rowe is the only child of Robert Archibald and Mary Ann (McNamara) Baker, the former of whom was born in Canada and the latter in County Limerick, Ireland. Mr. Baker was a scion of a family of English origin that was founded in New England in the colonial period of American history, and he was a descendant of Joseph Baker, who was a patriot soldier in the war of the Revolution and one of the famous "Green Mountain Boys," the family home being in Vermont. He was a lad of fourteen years when his parents came from the Old Dominion to Michigan and established their home in Grand Rapids, where his parents continued to reside until their death and where he himself passed the remainder of his life, he having here been associated with the Berkey & Gay Furniture Company more than half a century and having advanced from the position of hand carver in the factory to an executive office of important order. He was one of the venerable and honored pioneer citizens of Grand Rapids at the time of his death, in May, 1919, and while he had no desire for public office he always manifested deep interest in all things concerning the welfare of his home city. His wife was an infant when her parents came from Ireland to the United States and settled in Grand Rapids, where she was reared and educated and where she continued to reside until her death, January 26, 1925. The home of Mr. and Mrs. Baker was ever one of ideal relations and of gracious social atmosphere, and there their devoted interests were centered largely in their only child, Helen May, to whom they gave the best of advantages. Mrs. Helen Baker Rowe received the best of preliminary musical training available in her native land and supplemented this by study under leading instructors in Germany, where she developed to a high proficiency her talent as a pianist. She has elected to make Grand Rapids the central stage of her splendid service in the advancing of musical art, and has here had much of leadership along this line. She is a past president of the St. Cecilia society, a representative musical organization in her home city, and she was the incumbent of this office at the time when the club effected the organization of a symphony orchestra that gained high rank and that formed the nucleus of the present fine civic organization known as the Grand Rapids Symphony Orchestra. While she was president of the club, provision was made also for the St. Cecilia scholarship, for the benefit of talented young musicians, and the Schumann chorus, organization for women’s voices was founded. Mrs. Rowe has presented to the society an individual piano scholarship and has also given five years of effective service as president of the Morning Musicales. She has the distinction of having served as president of the Michigan Music Teachers’ Association, and as delegate for the National Federation of Music Clubs, and she has been for five years the Grand Rapids correspondent of the Musical Courier, which is published in New York city and is one of the foremost of American musical journals. At the time of this writing, in 1925, Mrs. Rowe is regent of the local chapter of the Daughters of the War of 1812, and she is also a member in the Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution. She is a past president of the Grand Rapids organization of the Alliance Francaise, and has been a valued member of the official board of the Ladies’ Literary Club. She is a life member of the McDowell League, one of the most interesting and important musical organizations of the United States, and is a member of the National Society for the Publication of American Music. She has given occasional service as the accompanist for the Schubert Club of Grand Rapids and as assistant director of the girls’ choir of St. Mark’s church, Protestant Episcopal. Mrs. Rowe has been called upon to act as accompanist for many of the leading musical artists who have given recitals in Michigan, and she has wide acquaintanceship among nationally celebrated artists, from many of whom she has received autographed portraits, her collection of such photographs being now one of exceptional interest and value. In 1902 occurred the marriage of William S. Rowe and Miss Helen May Baker, Mr. Rowe having been one of the principals in the upbuilding of the great business of the Valley City Milling Company, in which he and his brother, Frederick N., were the virtual successors of their father, who was one of the founders of this important Grand Rapids industrial corporation. The death of Mr. Rowe occurred in May, 1923, and the four children remain with their mother: Helen Mary, eldest of the children, was in 1925, a student in the University of Wisconsin, at Madison; Celene is attending Vassar College, and Carl and Robert William are in the public schools of Grand Rapids.

Transcriber: Nancy Myers
Created: 30 December 2002
URL: http://kent.migenweb.net/white1924/personal/rowehb.html