Gold Star Families Day: For Owasso woman, 99, brother’s WWII death ‘still hurts,’ inspires thoughts of what might have been

Although she tried to convince herself otherwise, there was no mistaking what Rose Guilfoyle had heard.

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The man on the news had just said the name of her brother’s ship.

“I remember it distinctly: I had the radio on, it was about 10 o’clock at night — and he said the USS Rowan was torpedoed and sunk today,” she said.

“It just gripped my heart,” she said, clutching her fist to her chest at the memory.

Guilfoyle, who was in Kansas City, where she had recently moved for work, knew it was too late to call her parents back in Greeley, Kansas.

“My dad always went to bed early,” she said.

So until morning, she would have to keep the grim news to herself.

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“I stayed awake all night,” she said. “There was no way I could sleep after that.”

Today, more than 78 years since her brother’s death in World War II made her a Gold Star sister, Guilfoyle, 99, still misses Merle Bowman.

In her mind, he’s still who he was then — the lanky lad who needed suspenders to hold up his pants.

Who could dance the foxtrot with the best of them.

Who had been a buddy to her, and even taught her to swim.


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