Gertrude S. Shaffer Rowland

1886 - 1981

Gertrude Shaffer, a pianist and singer, started teaching piano at age nineteen, while a student at Walla Walla College, now University. In 1908 she accepted a position to teach piano and voice at Forest Home Academy in Mount Vernon, Washington, later moved to Auburn, Washington, and renamed Auburn Academy. She was the first to introduce voice training in academies.

Gertrude was born in Culbertson, Nebraska, the second of six children of Louisa Augusta and Abner W. Shaffer. Following the death of her husband, Louisa and the children moved to Kent, Washington, where they became Seventh-day Adventists.

From 1912 to 1915, Shaffer taught piano and voice at WWC, working as an assistant to Grace Wood-Reith, music department chair. Reith, who had taught Shaffer when she had earlier been a student at the college, made the hiring of Shaffer a condition for her accepting leadership of the music program at WWC.

Shaffer, who also directed the chorus, married J. Wilson Rowland in the summer of 1913. She left with her husband when he graduated from WWC in 1915 and accepted a position as Sabbath School Secretary at the Singapore Mission. During their thirteen years there, she taught music at the Malayan Seminary from 1926 to 1928. They then worked in Borneo, where he served as Sabbath School Secretary at the British North Borneo mission until 1933, when they returned to the United States.

While serving as missionaries, the Rowlands had four children,all of whom would be employed by the church as adults.One of these, Neil Wilson Rowland, would teach biology at Union College and then serve as its academic dean.

The Rowlands subsequently served at Auburn Academy, Canadian Jr. College in Alberta, and Union College before returning to the Far East to Philippine Union College, now Philippine Adventist University. They retired to Portland, Oregon, where they lived until his death. She then moved to St. Helena, California, where she lived near a daughter until her death at age 94.


Sources: Timeline, provided by Neil W. Rowland; Obituaries, Review and Herald, 16 April 1981; Pacific Union Recorder, 4 May 1981; WWU Westwind, Summer 81; North Pacific Union Gleaner, 11 May 1937, 7 (motherís obituary); Dan Shultz, A Great Tradition, Music at WWC, 1892-1992, 32,241, 242.