Roland K. Bowler

02/17/1935 - 06/06/2021


Obituary For Roland K. Bowler

ROLAND K. (“ROLLY”) BOWLER, 86 Rockford, Illinois – Rolly Bowler passed away peacefully of natural causes at Serenity Hospice & Home in Oregon, Illinois on Sunday 6 June 2021. Born 17 February 1935 in Rockford, Illinois to William F. and Ann M. (nee Marinelli) Bowler. He graduated from St. Thomas High School in Rockford and studied aeronautical engineering and aviation management at the University of Illinois before pursuing a lifelong career in aviation. His passion for flying and fascination with airplanes began when he was a boy building and flying models, a hobby he continued during much of his life. As a young pilot, he worked giving airplane rides at Machesney Field and as an instructor and commercial pilot before being hired to fly for Anderson Brothers Manufacturing. He later worked decades as a pilot and flight instructor for Eastern Airlines and most recently as the principal of Elan Express, a flight operator for professional sports teams. He was a member of the Quiet Birdmen. Rolly made a childhood dream his reality and inspired others to do the same. He never worked a day in his life.

Rolly was very outgoing, seemed to know everyone everywhere, and was quick to lend a hand. He was a gentleman and loved cooking for and entertaining his family and friends. He was a good storyteller, often of his many adventures. He also enjoyed boating with friends in the Midwest and South Florida where he spent much time living and working aboard his boat and getting to know transient boaters provisioning at the marinas where he docked. He was a Colorado Rockies and Chicago Bulls fan. Most of all Rolly loved his family. He was especially proud of his four children and their families. Rolly was inseparable from his brother Gene, spending much time together at Roma Bakery, flying and golfing, often with cousin Tom, number one nephew John and his son. He will be missed dearly by family, friends, and colleagues the world over.

Born to eternal life, Rolly is reunited with his loving parents, sister Deloris R. (Robert) Smith, and other relatives and friends that have gone before. He is survived by his children, Roland K. (Min) Bowler II, Deborah J. (Paul) Nicolosi, Mary Angela (Frank) Gambino, and Catherine A. (Marc) Gasparini; grandchildren, Brittany (Josue) Almonaci, Christina (Adam) Admani, Ashley (Jake) Dickinson, Michael Gambino, Sophia Nicolosi, Selina Bowler, Chase Bowler, Alexandra Nicolosi, Gianna Gambino, Isabella Gasparini (Andrew Squires), Nicholas Gasparini, Sierra Bowler, Carson Bowler, Theresa Gasparini, and Ava Gasparini; great-grandchildren, Giada Gambino, Lucia Almonaci, Elias Almonaci, and Aria Admani; brother, William E. "Gene" (Marilyn) Bowler; first cousins Thomas (Toni) Marinelli, Lydia (Maryann Mares) Marinelli, and Carol Vettore; nieces, Elizabeth Bowler Himes (Michael Johnson) and Susan Bowler, and nephew John Bowler; and many friends and extended family members. Special thanks to the attentive staff at Serenity Hospice & Home, Swedish American Hospital, and Fiona Drodrolagi.

Visitation at 9:30 a.m. and Mass of Christian Burial at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday 16 June 2021 at Holy Family Church in Rockford. Interment in Calvary Cemetery, 8616 W. State St., Winnebago.

Arrangements by Tony Gasparini Funerals. In lieu of flowers, please send memorial contributions to Serenity Hospice & Home, 1658 IL-2, Oregon, IL 61061, the Rockford Rescue Mission, or Rockford Food Pantry.


16 Jun


09:30 AM

Holy Family Catholic Church 4401 Highcrest Road Rockford, Il 61107 Get Directions »
16 Jun

Funeral Mass

10:30 AM

Holy Family Catholic Church 4401 Highcrest Road Rockford, Il 61107 Get Directions »
16 Jun


11:30 AM

Calvary Catholic Cemetery 8616 W State Road Winnebago, IL 61088 Get Directions »
by Obituary Assistant

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