Philanthropist and advocate Rowland Rebele dies at age 93

Rowland and Pat Rebele.  (Photo by Carolyn Lagattuta)

Rowland Rebele, a distinguished publisher, philanthropist, homeless advocate, and unwavering supporter of the arts, died Saturday, Nov. 25, at the age of 93. His indomitable spirit and fervent commitment to Santa Cruz have left an indelible imprint on both the community and the UC Santa Cruz campus.

Rowland and his wife, Pat, were active supporters of UC Santa Cruz for more than four decades, providing valuable advice to campus leaders as well as generous financial support. 

"Rowland Rebele's influence on UC Santa Cruz has been broad and deep," said UC Santa Cruz Chancellor Cynthia Larive. "Every future artist, social-justice leader, engineer and scientist who passes through our doors will continue to be beneficiaries of Rowland’s generosity, passion, and vision. He and Pat have been instrumental in transforming our campus."

The Rebeles created the Patricia and Rowland Rebele Endowed Chair in History of Art and Visual Culture and the Rebele Art History Endowment at the University Library. A gift of $1 million was used to jumpstart the Institute of the Arts and Sciences at UC Santa Cruz. 

Their philanthropy extended to a wide variety of campus programs, including the Genomics Institute, where a recent gift is still helping researchers and health-care providers understand the COVID-19 genome. They also supported the Seymour Marine Discovery Center, Mary Porter Sesnon Gallery, UC Santa Cruz Opera, the Arboretum, the University Center, Arts & Lectures, the Pacific Rim Music Festival, and Friends of Long Marine Laboratory. 

The couple’s impact on the campus was recognized in 2009 when they were given the Fiat Lux Award at the Founders Day gala. The award is given by the UC Santa Cruz Foundation to alumni and friends who have demonstrated outstanding achievement, dedication, and service in support of the university's programs and goals. The Rebeles were honored for their extraordinary support of the arts and education and their vital role as advocates for the homeless.

Rowland Rebele, a prominent figure in Santa Cruz for decades, engaged in philanthropic endeavors that spanned a wide spectrum, touching numerous organizations and individuals through direct donations, scholarships, and various forms of support. The couple were key contributors to the River Street homeless center, now bearing their name, showcasing their commitment to addressing societal challenges.

Rowland Rebele was born in San Francisco. He met Pat in middle school there. After obtaining his education at Stanford University and Harvard Business School, he served in the U.S. Navy during the Korean War. He went on to manage several small newspapers in California, maintaining an avid interest in journalism throughout his life. Roughly 40 years ago, the Rebeles transitioned from the newspaper business to retirement in Santa Cruz. 

Rowland Rebele is survived by wife Pat, children Marianne, Andrew, and Chris, as well as an extended circle of family and friends. Memorial service details are pending.