Although Sandra Rowland, wife of Cleveland Mayor Tom Rowland, has lived most of her life in high-profile careers, she says she was unprepared for the life of first lady.A former managing editor of …
Although Sandra Rowland, wife of Cleveland Mayor Tom Rowland, has lived most of her life in high-profile careers, she says she was unprepared for the life of first lady.
A former managing editor of the Cleveland Daily Banner, radio station co-owner and now a real-estate marketing and communications director for Spring Creek Center in Cleveland, Rowland has been in the public eye for many years.
Like her husband, Rowland has been a force in the city, working to improve the lives of her fellow Clevelanders. The pavilion at Life Bridges was named for her and her husband for their 25 years of work with the Special Olympics.
However, during an interview with the Cleveland Daily Banner, Rowland said Kim Brooks, the wife of Mayor-elect Kevin Brooks, is better prepared for her upcoming role as Cleveland’s next first lady.
Rowland said she didn’t know what she was getting into when her husband decided to run for mayor in 1991.
Rowland said then Mayor Bill Schulz’s wife told her the role as first lady was a demanding one.
“She said I would love it, but you have to go everywhere [with the mayor],” Rowland said. “She said it could be very demanding.”
Her entry into public life began when her husband said he was considering running for office.
“He said he had something to talk to me about,” Rowland said. “We went for a walk, and he said he was thinking about running for mayor.”
Rowland said they decided they would do it for a few years if he won the mayoral race.
Rowland said she never dreamed the role would last 27 years of her 50-year marriage to the mayor.
As for Kim Brooks, Rowland said the future first lady is well prepared for her new role.
“Kim is probably better prepared than I was,” Rowland said. “Kim and I have worked together a lot on charities. She was a member of my team on United Way. She’s a worker.”
Rowland said the Mayor-elect Brooks and his wife have always been involved in community work, in addition to their jobs. She said Kim Brooks is accustomed to being in the public eye as the wife of a long-time state legislator.
Kim Brooks’ work as director of event planning at Lee University has also prepared her for the role of wife of a mayor, according to Rowland.
“Whoever comes to campus, she’s involved with the security and protocol and whatever,” Rowland said.
However, Rowland said there will be tough times that the new mayor and first lady will experience. As a result, they will need to rely on friends and spiritual guidance to weather difficulties.
Rowland also said the first lady's role continues after working hours when the mayor gets home and wants to discuss city business.
“I’m usually the sounding board when he gets home,” Rowland said.
There was one particular time when the mayor faced a difficult decision. It was a decision that weighed on him so much that friends knew he needed some spiritual support.
“I knew he had a serious decision to make,” Rowland said. “One night, I heard a noise outside. I told Tom there was a van outside the house and the doors were open. He told me to call the police, but before I could the van left.”
It was not until the next day that the Rowlands learned that someone from a local church had assembled a group together to pray for her husband.
“The next day Gary Sears said, ‘Tom, I want you you to know that today is difficult, but I had a group from the church sit outside and pray for you.”
Pastor Sears is the minister of Mount Olive Ministries.
Rowland said she and her husband have become close friends of Pastor Sears over the years.
“We visit his church often for special events,” Rowland said.
It is that type of support that will help the Brooks' endure any difficult times that may come their way.
“I think prayer has pulled us through in everything,” Rowland said.
Print subscribers have FREE access to clevelandbanner.com by registering HERE
Non-subscribers have limited monthly access to local stories, but have options to subscribe to print, web or electronic editions by clicking HERE
We are sorry but you have reached the maximum number of free local stories for this month. If you have a website account here, please click HERE to log in for continued access.
If you are a print subscriber but do not have an account here, click HERE to create a website account to gain unlimited free access.
Non-subscribers may gain access by subscribing to any of our print or electronic subscriptions HERE