Illinois Valley PADS builds shelter in memory of Bob Rowatt

Longtime program director would be in tears of joy to see the project in his name, friend says

Bob Rowatt always had a smile on his face and could light up any room at Public Action to Deliver Shelter in Peru, where he worked as program director. His death in January was a major blow to PADS.

“Bob was a very good friend,” said Kathy Koscielski, a longtime PADS volunteer. “He was always happy. He woke up happy, he went to bed happy. He never complained.”

For all those reasons, it wasn’t difficult finding donors willing to make a capital improvement in Rowatt’s memory. On Friday, workers at the Peru shelter were completing an enclosure at the Peru shelter for storage and for PADS clients to take smoking breaks.

Koscielski said Rowatt’s many friends readily agreed to donate some $10,000 to complete construction. Rowatt, she said, “would be crying to see this building gone up in his name.”

Carol Alcorn, PADS executive director, said the organization had long sought a shelter for clients who smoke — “It gets them out of the rain and the snow and the wind” — and who are allotted 10-minute smoking breaks each hour. Rowatt’s untimely passing (he was only 67) provided the impetus to get the project going.

“We miss him a great deal and there were ideas of how to make a tribute to him,” Alcorn said, “and for the nearly seven years he worked here.”

While the project is funded, PADS could always use donations and seeks to eventually install plastic benches inside the shelter erected in Rowatt’s memory.