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Marvin Rowley Oral History Interview

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Marvin Rowley Oral History Interview


In this interview, Marvin Rowley discusses his childhood in rural Oregon, his experiences during World War II, and his family life. The interview begins with a discussion of Rowley’s early years. He states that he was born in Portland in 1924, and that his family moved to Tualatin shortly thereafter, where they lived without electricity and plumbing. He shares memories of kerosene lamps, outhouses, and hauling water from the creek. Rowley then explains that his connection to nature and his upbringing in the woods were formative, and contributed to his love for Oregon.

From there, Rowley's narrative shifts to his wartime experiences. He says that, after graduating from high school, he worked in a shipyard before joining the Air Force. In this, he recalls his years as a First Scout, noting that his childhood experiences of camping, hunting, and fishing helped to prepare him for the military. He shares anecdotes about the struggles of manual labor and the battles he fought in, and also chronicles his progression in the service, discussing his promotions and awards. This section of the interview concludes with Rowley displaying a photo from his military years to the camera.

The interview then turns to Rowley’s family life. He shares memories of marriage, family, and the construction of his house. He details his relationship with his first wife, Marian, whom he met prior to enlisting in the military. Upon his discharge, he and his wife built their house together, and he connects that experience to his education in forestry, notably his role as a forest manager at McDonald Forest.

Towards the end of the interview, Rowley discusses his experience with chestnut trees and his commitment to tree farming. He also describes his involvement in missionary work, which involved mission trips to Africa and involvement in a local church. The interview concludes with Rowley’s discussion of his life at the time of the interview, noting that he recently remarried and is an active participant in the Corvallis community.

Marvin Rowley was born in 1924 in Portland, Oregon, and spent his early years in a community near Tualatin. Growing up in a rural environment, he developed a deep connection to nature and the outdoors. He attended Tualatin Grade School and Sherwood High School, where he was a senior when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. When he turned 18, he joined the Navy Air Force during World War II, working as a mechanic and scout in various locations across the United States. He was part of the 41st Infantry and participated in combat in the southern Philippines.

After the war, he returned to Oregon, where he married his first wife, Marian Parker, and earned a degree in Forest Engineering from Oregon State College. From there, he pursued a career in forestry and eventually started a company with his brother-in-law called Rowley and Parker Tree Farm. He later purchased a 100-acre Christmas tree farm southwest of Philomath. In 1973, he accepted a position as manager of OSU’s McDonald Forest, retiring in 1986. After the passing of his first wife, he got remarried to Jean Pitts. He passed away in 2017.


Marvin Rowley


Starker Forests Community Oral History Collection (OH 038)


Special Collections and Archives Research Center, Oregon State University Libraries


February 2009


Gary Blanchard


Born Digital Video




Oral History



Oral History Item Type Metadata


Gary Blanchard


Marvin Rowley


Rowley residence, Philomath, Oregon; McDonald Forest, Corvallis, Oregon; and Evergreen Acres Tree Farm, Philomath, Oregon

Original Format

Born Digital Video



OHMS Object

Interview Format


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  1. rowley.jfif