Monthly Archives: May 2018

My beautiful Aunt Donna

Rowland, Madonna M. LATHAM

Madonna Rowland

Madonna M. “Donna” Rowland, 77, of Latham Ridge Road died on Monday, May 21, 2018, at her residence after a three-month illness.

Born in Albany, Donna was the daughter of the late John W. and Mary A. Emmott Mulligan; and wife of the late Donald J. Rowland. Donna was raised and educated in Albany and she was a graduate of the Academy of the Holy Names. Donna had resided in Latham for the past 52 years and prior to Don’s passing she had been a homemaker and stay at home mom. After the sudden loss of Don, Donna started a career at the N.Y.S. Dept. of Motor Vehicles with a clerk position. She had retired the first time in 2006 and then returned on a part time basis two days a week, retiring a second time in February of this year.

Donna took care of her own home until her illness, she was a Yankees fan and enjoyed traveling with her daughter to Cape Cod and Florida. Donna was a longtime communicant of Our Lady of Assumption Church in Latham. Survivors include her children, Donald J. (Dee) Rowland Jr. and Douglas J. Rowland both of Latham, and Deborah M. Rowland of Clifton Park; a sister Irene O’Toole of Utica; her grandchildren, Suzanne (Mark) Fenzel) Rowland, Stephanie (Chris) Dobert, Kelly L. and Gregory Rowland. Donna was the sister of the late Mary Simpson.

The Rowland family wishes to thank Beth from the Community Hospice for her compassion and care during Donna’s illness.

Funeral, 10 a.m. Wednesday, May 30, in Our Lady of Assumption Church, 498 Watervliet Shaker Road, Latham, followed by an interment service in the St. Agnes Mausoleum. Relatives and friends are invited and may call from 4-8 p.m. at the Bowen & Parker Bros. Funeral Home, 97 Old Loudon Road, Latham on Tuesday, May 29.

The family request donations in memory of Madonna M. Rowland may be made to the Transitional Services Assoc., 127 Union St., Saratoga Springs, NY, 12866 or the Community Hospice c/o St. Peters Hospital Foundation, 310 S. Manning Blvd. Albany, NY, 12208. Arrangements by the Perry-Komdat Funeral Chapel Inc. Averill Park. Visit for directions and a private guestbook.

May 29, 2018

So sad hearing this, My condolences to the Family. SIP my Friend

May 28, 2018

Donna, You were like a big sister to me. We always had such a great time together. You were the best cake decorator ever. I loved your big smile, kindness and personality. I was your little flower girl and was honored to me in your wedding. I loved the last 2 1/2 hours we spent together covering so many things. I told you that I heard heaven was a great place and that my Mom was going to greet you and you smiled. I am sure she was there to meet you and is showing you around. Love and Kisses. I will miss you very much. Until we meet again….. Love Jeannie
May 28, 2018

Mr Rowland My sincerest sympathies

May 28, 2018

I’m so very sorry for your loss! You are in our thoughts & Prayers

May 28, 2018

Rest in Peace. Mom, Dad and Don will be happy to see you. I am pretty sure that heaven has a beautiful in ground pool waiting for all of you to get be with each other. I will miss your laugh and kindness pie lady.

May 27, 2018

Lacrimosa dies Ilka, qua resurget ex Fabiola indicandus homo reus. Huic ergo parce. Deus Pie Jesu Domine, Dona did requiem. Amen.

May 27, 2018

Madonna, the sweetest smile with a kind word at every meeting. I am better for having met you many years ago at DMV. I am saddened by this news. I know that as surely as I draw my next breath, our Father in heaven has prepared a place in his kingdom for you. My condolences to your family, may peace come to them in the quiet of their homes.

May 27, 2018

Donna, I will miss you. You were like a breath of sunshine. I will keep you in my prayers. Love, Irene

May 27, 2018

My beautiful Aunt Donna…always like a big sister to the Simpson children. When I think of her I think of the class she always showed her entire life. Will never forget her taking us around town in her convertible. Her laugh will stay with us. To all of the Rowlands, we were all lucky to have one of the Mulligan girls to be our mother. Love, hard work and the importance of a close family is something we all were so lucky to have. It is true, when you lose your mom it hurts so much, but with time all of the good times and the things your mom taught you will soothe the pain.
With love from your favorite nephew Robert. (that was our little joke)
May 27, 2018

So sorry to hear of Donna’s passing. She was a dear friend when we both worked in the legal bureau at DMV. My sincere condolences to all.

Rowland Family

Donna and sister Mary at Cape Cod

Donna and Zachary dance at his wedding

John W. Mulligan and his 3 daughters

Donna and Donald Rowland

My very young Aunt Donna…always joy in her face…how beautiful

comments can be sent to

try again

3 months in Latin America

by Robert John Simpson

First…….the history lesson

Right after school, I spent a year on the road – my backpack and guitar and the world… 21 years old and I knew it all. I first hitched a ride out to California and back to New York. That was easy. I then went through Europe and across Asia to India. This was the big thing I did as a young man. When I got back home from my trip I worked as a laborer, helping build the Capital District Psychiatric Center.. (A building which would play some role in my life at a later date). I had my money saved up to travel to South America, had the maps up on the wall and I was just about set to take off before winter hit upstate New York.

Something happened which delayed my trip for awhile… I got a call for a State job interview, this is just what I wanted/my parents wanted for me… I stayed in the same place for 30 years, I raised my three sons, dealt with my wife’s ever serious illnesses etc…. So in October 2009 I was ready to get back on the road again. This time I was 60 years old, and not 21, but after all my experiences, a much stronger and I think a better man.

The first place I wanted to see was the town of Ierapetra, Crete. I spent several months there before going across, Turkey, Iran, Afganistan and Pakistan to India. The City of Ierapetra is the southern most city in Europe. I remember singing, drinking, trying to score there… There were about 30 young people staying there from Europe, Canada and the USA. We sang Beatle songs and danced to Greek music. I made friends with Antonio, a blind Greek who played the mandolin. I can still remember hugging him for the last time and promising to come back to Crete.

After 40 years, I got to see a much larger version of Ierapetra. They built massive concrete structures and I could not even find the street where “our” tavern was where we sang, drank and danced. I got out of there in 2 miserable days. When I was waiting for my bus out of town I went to a tavern for a quick coffee. I told the people there, in my primitive Greek, that I had been in their town 40 years ago and played my guitar with Antonio. Their faces lit up and told me they remember him. One guy went out and came back with a large picture of Antonio with his mandolin. I was too late to see my old friend, but I felt I made good on my promise to return….

I had one month on the Greek Islands – October… the weather was perfect, the students were back in school and plenty of fish, wine and salads for me. Next I went up to a very cold Serbia, on a train to Belgrade to visit my friend Marco and his family, then to Romania to visit my friends in Timisoura and Iasc. I then hitched a ride down to Bucherest and flew to Istanbul. That city has really grown over the years. I enjoyed going back to the places I had been to before. This time I bought a 7 day bus tour of inner Turkey. I got to visit Capadoicia, Pulmukuli, Kudusa and Gillipoli. I had a great time and being part of a tour was much better than just wondering around by myself.

So the point is, I had 2 great months on the road in Europe and Turkey and I really liked it. Back to the original point of all of this.

My trip to Latin America was postponed by 40 years. In December, 2009 I bought a round trip ticket down to Rio. I just picked a date to leave in the middle of February. A 3 month trip should be long enough to see what was going on down there. My plan was to go up the coast of Brazil and get to the mouth of the Amazon. I think the idea of a boat ride across Brazil might have been the major objective of this trip.

so back to the story.

……flying into Rio

International flying is starting to get to be a normal thing for me. I flew down to Rio and found myself on a bus to the Ipanema beach. Constantly looking for that statue of Jesus with his arms spread out… I did find my hostel and was amazed that it was right next to the place where the Girl from Ipanema was written. It seems like all the tourists who go to Rio have seen the movie “City of God”. This file is about all the violence and poverty associated with the favelas, the slums on the hills where the poor people live. So I tried to not look like a tourist..but it was difficult, i had my winter white skin look. I was surprised to see a sign at the hostel that mentioned the last Carnival parade to be held the next day. I really thought that I was getting to Rio too late to see any of the festivities. So on Saturday nite I got on the subway and found the sombredromo, the stadium where the parade is held. Parade is really not the right word for what this is. It starts at 9pm and goes onto the next morning at 7am. I was lucky enough to sit next to a family who had a daughter who spoke great English. After awhile I was drinking beer and starting to move my body to the music… The parade groups all had a fantastic drum corps who made the place rock…. after all these months i am still dancing to that beat (just move our shoulders, the body will follow). I hung out until about 6 am and I was just to sleepy to make it through the whole deal. I got a subway back to the hostel and slept for a few hours.

I was lucky enough to pick the right time when the Rio finals were being held. With 100,000 other football fans, I got to see the Rio final the next day. That was the second live soccer game I have been to and it was so amazing. I had to stand on my chair throughout the whole game just to see the field. I was always thinking…”what did I do to deserve the luck of getting to Carnival and the football finals”… but there I was in Rio.

Of course I had to go see Christ up on the hill and look down at Rio…. I visited the famous tile steps in St. Theresa Favela and got a real good sunburn on the Ipanema Beach, listening to live Bossa Nova music.

After a week of Rio I took the bus to the Rotaviara (pronounced Ho dough V aria). I took a 3 hour bus trip up to Buzios on the coast. I had reservations at the Buzios Beach Hostel for 3 nites. It turned into 2 weeks and I really did not want to leave. This hostel is run by Stephen from Ireland/Australia and his assistant, Adrian from Ireland. What a great team. There were people from Chile, Argentina, the UK and Austria there, and me the only USA person. The place was right down the street from the Geriba Beach… Now I never go in the ocean, but this place was so nice, and the water was so warm I went in every day.


Buzios, Brazil, the 3 UK girls, the guys and girl from Chile and Adrian and Stephen who ran the hostel

so then i went to Ouro Preto, a college town on hills. Very pleasant place to stop for a few days. This picture was taken from my hostel where i was the only visitor. I forgot just how beautiful this part of Brazil is… look at that church..the mountains. I was in such a hurry I did not always get to appreciate where I was.

Ouro Preto, a college town on hills. Very pleasant place to stop for a few days. This picture was taken from my hostel where i was the only visitor. I forgot just how beautiful this part of Brazil is… look at that church..the mountains. I was in such a hurry I did not always get to appreciate where I was.

then off to Brasilia, the capitol of Brazil. I wanted to see the buildings designed by Oscar Neimeyer, who designed building in Albany, NY. The capitol was not built for tourists but I got to see the government buildings. Then I flew to Belem the place where the Amazon flows into the Atlantic Ocean. I got to buy a ticket for a boatride to Manaus. This was a slow boat where everybody sleeps in a hammock on the top deck. From Manaus we got another boat to the border of Columbia, Peru and Brazil, Then a jet boat to Iquitos, Peru.

There was a group of us..An American girl from Romania, An Irish girl, and a guy from Paris. from Iquitos we took a jet to Pucallpa. After 2 weeks of boat, jet and bus travel we were still in the Amazon. We split up and I went with the Romanian by bus to Huanuco. We finally got to Huaraz. Of all the worst, terrible and dangerous bus rides I took in 60 countries, the bus trips over the Peru mountains was THE WORST. Have you ever seen the videos were the buses fall off the roads and fall down into the valleys? Well we were close but I am still here.

So down to Lima then a 26 hour bus ride to Cusco. A very nice place and a beautiful town square, filled with people who come down from the hills to sell their stuff. We took a bus and a train to Agua Caliente at the foot of Machu Pichu, spent the night and then a day up there. Once in a life time opportunity to see such a beautiful place. Then to Puno, a boat trip to Lake Titicaca, down to Arequipa which is in the middle of several semo-active volcanos.

A side trip to the Colca Canyon to see the Condors….here is a video….

Then a jet trip from Arequipa to Santiago.. nice to see the west coast of Chile from the air. I visited my Chile friends, went over the Andes to Mendoza, enjoyed the Malbec wine, got to see Iguazu Waterfalls, the biggest and the best in the World. Back to Rio and flew home. This trip took 4 months and I got a great taste of South America.

Pictures to save

Rest Seekers in East Berne…good food, good job and now long gone.

Rik and Jordan washed dishes there

Lake Titicaca, Peru, Bolivia

this was a Walt Disney re-creation of the old day, the poor people were acting the part and had TVs in the huts. I did stay overnight with a local family on one of the islands. That was very real, but the high attitude really made me sick. Nice experience but not all that pleasant.

A day at Machu Pichu, Peru… never thought I would make it here, but I did.

Woodstock plus 25 years… Donna back with family

Lahore Pakistan.. 1972 I was on my way to India. Wearing my Mexican Shirt…

Getting a well at my new land in Knox, NY… that FORD LTD was just a terrible car

Great Day of fishing on White Birch Pond

We were a great family

The 7 Simpsons

Zachary, Jordan and Rik on the logs