Francis Walter Rowbottam
1920 - 2015
Our beloved father, grandfather, great- grandfather, and husband, Frank Rowbottam, was born to Evelyn and Walter Rowbottam in London, England in 1920, and was the first of four children. He and his family came to the U.S. in 1939 on the Aquitania when his parents feared the outbreak of war in England. The family settled in Santa Barbara based on a glowing recommendation by a fellow passenger onboard ship. Once settled, Frank moved to Los Angeles to find work, and there he met his loving, future wife, Evelyn. After they married, he was drafted into the U.S. Army Air Corp. Ironically, he was sent back to England to proudly serve as a bomb-site and automatic pilot instructor as WWII unfolded. He received his citizenship at the U.S. Embassy in London during that time.
Once the war was over, Frank returned to the U.S., and he and Evelyn began building a life together. He began his career as engineer and product designer for a firm that designed and manufactured school and institutional furniture. He subsequently started his own business becoming a pioneer in the aluminum sliding glass door and window industry. During this time, Frank and Evelyn built their first home in Palos Verdes Estates where they lived with their two children for seventeen years. Eventually, he had the opportunity to return to Santa Barbara where the rest of his family lived, taking a job as a designer for a consultant design company, a move which was never regretted.
Frank was an independent thinker, an avid reader, and was always well informed. At age 94, he was using his iPhone and iPad up until his health declined this year, and was always as interested in figuring out how the technologies worked, as he was in using them. Besides possessing extraordinary business and mechanical skills, he was an inventor with several patented inventions, an artist, a photographer, and a woodworker with the ambition and knowledge that enabled him to build and hand-carve many pieces of furniture for his home. He was a member of the Cosmopolitan Club, as well as the Santa Barbara Elks, but most importantly, enjoyed being involved with his family.
During their 72 years of marriage, Evelyn and Frank traveled throughout the United States and to many other areas of the world, either in their R.V., by renting cars in out- of- the way areas, or taking tours. They had innumerable exciting experiences together.
Frank was a model of integrity, honesty, and strength. He was warm and loving, with a great sense of humor and an insatiable curiosity, and people were drawn to him, never failing to comment on the English accent that lingered. He leaves behind his wife of 72 years, Evelyn; his son John (Jamee); his daughter Kris Zapata (Bob); two grandchildren, Mike Zapata (Julianna) and Nicole Williams (Bret); as well as six great-grandchildren. He also leaves his surviving sister, Eileen Morton (Jim) and their families, as well as other family (nieces and nephews) and extended family too numerous to list. His brother, John, and sister, Margaret, predeceased him. He loved all of his family dearly.
We wish to thank all of the doctors who have been involved in the care of Frank this past year, as well as nurses and staff at Valle Verde, Cottage Hospital, and Serenity House, for their support and kindness. As per his wishes, no formal service will be held, but please honor him in your thoughts and memories. In lieu of flowers, a donation to Visiting Nurse & Hospice Care (www.vnhcsb.org) would help towards providing comfort and care for many.
Frank's many contributions and his love for his family will live on in our memories forever.