James Richard Rowan

James Richard Rowan was born in Idaho Falls, Idaho on August 8, 1935, and passed away peacefully in the early morning hours of July 16, 2021, in Draper, Utah. Jim was the youngest of 8 children (Marlon, Blaine, Betty, Peggy, Ruth, LeGrand, and Robert) born to Milo LeGrande and Anna Ardella Jansson Rowan. For the first 7 years of his life, he was raised by his Aunt Verny and his Grandma Karin in Murray, Utah. At the age of 7, he went to live with his family in Ririe, Idaho. Jim attended school in Ririe where he was the drum major in high school, graduating as valedictorian of Ririe High School in 1953. He liked playing the violin and piano and would gig with his band once in a while at local dances.  He spent his early years working at the potato farm, on the family’s cattle ranch in the summers, and at the gas station that his father owned. He enjoyed growing up in a small town filled with family, good friends, and countless adventures.

After high school, from 1954-1956, Jim served an LDS mission to the Eastern States, which included West Virginia, Tennessee, and Kentucky. During this time Jim and his companions served in branch presidencies and building programs; they even had a short weekly radio program!  He then enrolled at Ricks College, but was drafted into the U.S. Army and was stationed in Headquarters Company at Fort Ord, California. After his discharge, Jim attended Ricks College where he met and began dating Leona Fannin – they were later named King and Queen of the Homecoming Ball. Jim and Leona were married in the Idaho Falls LDS Temple on August 25, 1960, and then moved to St. Louis, MO where Jim attended dental school at Washington University. Although the dental school years were difficult, Jim and Leona were able to develop close relationships with other young LDS student couples, and those relationships were to remain very close throughout their lives.

After graduating from dental school in 1964, Jim and Leona settled in Merced, California where they raised their family with many aunts, uncles, and cousins nearby. Their home was full of kids, dogs, and foreign exchange students. They placed a priority on making memories with their children by taking regular camping trips to the Mojave Desert with dirt bikes, annual trips to Disneyland, Oakland A’s baseball and San Francisco 49’er football games, and many family reunions in Utah and Idaho.

Jim was known for his kindness and jovial friendly demeanor. His self-declared nickname was “The Fun Guy.” He seemed to be everyone’s best friend and loved to hassle everyone because he loves them. It was nearly impossible to go out in public without running into people he knew who wanted to visit with him. Jim had many hobbies and interests.  He made jewelry in his dental lab. He was always perfecting his deep-pit BBQ techniques where he hosted countless dinners for family and friends. He served in the Kiwanis Club, where he enjoyed working with the Special Olympics, and with the Boys & Girls Clubs of America. He loved riding his motorcycle on Tuesday evenings with his friends in his motorcycle club, The Valley Wimps (name disputed by members) where they would have fun riding to a different dining venue in the valley each week.

Jim is survived by his brother LeGrand and sister Ruth, his former spouses Leona Rowan and Marilyn Christensen, his six children – James Rowan Jr (son), Greg & Laurie Eichert (daughter), Johnny & Miki (son), Allan & Lynley (daughter), Joseph & Michelle (son), Jerrod (son) and grandchildren, Hannah, Victoria, Merrily, Camille, David, Anna, Chase, Megan, Annie, Chloe, and great-grandchild, Ryker.

Jim was a generous, happy individual who had the ability to make everyone around him feel important. He could always see the good in other people and very quietly served those in need. He sincerely cared about his patients, friends, and family. He demonstrated contagious cheerfulness and acceptance of others.  He will be greatly missed!

The Funeral service is on Monday, July 26, 2021, at 11:00, am at Spilsbury Mortuary, 110 S Bluff Street St. George, Utah with an hour visitation prior to service from 9:30 – 10:30 am. Interment is at Tonaquint Cemetery.

Family and friends that are unable to attend are invited to view the funeral service by clicking on the link below.


Arrangements are made under the direction of Spilsbury Mortuary, 110 S Bluff Street, St. George, Utah. Family and friends are invited to sign James’s online guest book at www.spilsburymortuary.com.



9:30 – 10:30 am

Second Visitation


11:00 am


Spilsbury Mortuary Chapel
110 S. Bluff
St. George, UT


Tonaquint Cemetery
1777 S Dixie Dr, St. George, UT

Guest Book

15 Responses

  1. I served Jim in the dining room at Sterling Court Assisted Living. He always ordered vanilla ice cream with chocolate sauce on top for dessert. And a diet coke in a to-go cup. If I saw Jim before he arrived at his table, I would go get his diet coke, and have it ready for him as soon as he sat down! He always complimented me on my excellent service; saying to me, “you’re the kid” =)

    1. You are the best Christy! My dad absolutely adored you. You were so kind to him. Especially during the Covid lockdown. Taking more time to visit with him when you delivered his meals to his room. It was so nice to see you at his funeral. We are very grateful for all you have done for our father. You have truly been an angel.. Thank you!!

  2. Jim was a fantastic human being and his presence in the world will be greatly missed. Rest In Peace. I will miss you.

  3. I was a patient of Dr. Rowan’s in Merced Ca. I was his patient starting in 1964 and stuck with him until he retired. He was a very kind man and an excellent dentist. We reconnected on Facebook. He will be missed!! RIP Fun Guy!!

  4. Dr. Rowan was like a second father to me when I was growing up. He made me part of the Rowan clan and took me along on all the family trips. He also made awesome pancakes. I always loved sitting at the kitchen table laughing and eating. Bugs hugs and lots of love Lyn, James,Johnny., Joey, Laurie and Jared.

    With love
    Laura Stewart

  5. I started with Dr. Rowan in 1964 as a young kid. He was my dentist until he retired. I always loved to go to the dentist. He was always so kind and truly was the “Fun Guy!!”
    After he moved from Merced we reconnected on Facebook. I will sure miss him!! RIP Dr. Rowan❤️

  6. There are no words that I can find to express how great of a man Dr Rowan is. I had been painfully injured by a dentist in high school and had found Dr. Rowan o pain and he was the fun guy. He is the only dentist I knew that could make me laugh during a tooth extraction. The world has lost a wonderful role model and man. God Bless.

  7. Dr. Rowan was my dentist until he retired! I loved going to the dentist as a kid to see “The Fun Guy” and of course to have a turn in treasure chest! I loved seeing Dr. Rowan but like most people hated dental work/procedures. Dr. Rowan was always able to put me at ease and made going to the dentist not so scary. He was one of the best!

  8. Ah Jimbo. I was truly privileged and thankful to have known you and your wonderful family. I will certainly miss being overly complimented about everything, when in the same room with you or when you’d comment on my Facebook posts. You were a gem to me and many others in this life and will be missed. ❤️

  9. I had the pleasure of getting to know Jim, years ago, when I worked with his sons, John and Joe. Jim would often stop by the office and brighten our day with his cherry attitude, silliness and exaggerated flattery. He always left us laughing. May his family find solace in knowing they will be able to see him and laugh with him again. Until then, may they have comfort and joy in remembering their good times as a family.

  10. James Rowan was my good friend and family dentist. After moving from Merced to St. George I ran into him at Costco! We stayed in contact and he asked my son David to make him a Mexican dinner and bring to his and Marilyns house for us all to enjoy. He always had a smile and a hug for me and always inquired after my children. I remember his hat he’d wear when he went motorcycle riding. It had a braid attached to the back of it. And had embroidered on it FUNGUY. I will see you on the other side James.

  11. He did have the ability to make everyone around him feel important. I will forever be grateful for the love, kindness, and interest he took in my boys. He always went out of his way to make them feel special.

  12. I love Jimbo! He is and always will be dear to me! He has a gift for making you feel like your something special! I love the man and cherish the Rowan family. Love, Diana Christoffersen

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