Media

Rowland Stiteler, R.I.P.

He is remembered as a kind man and talented writer.

Rowland Stiteler hired on at D Magazine in 1978 as an associate editor. By 1981, he had been promoted to editor, a position he held for a year. This was before my time, but I know Rowland must have enjoyed himself when he was on staff, and he must have had his hands full when he had to manage it. I know this because I know (and knew) some of the people he worked with: David Bauer, David Dillon, Mike Shropshire, Jim Atkinson, Bernie Kraft. And, of course, there is Wick Allison.

Wick’s early years here overlapped with Rowland’s tenure for only a bit. (He sold the magazine in 1980 and beat it to New York, returning to Dallas years later, after realizing his mistake.) When I asked Wick about Rowland, he said: “He did great work on DISD and the Legislature and hordes of other stuff. He was a shoe-leather reporter who could write like a poet. But mostly, he was very good at getting people to talk.”

Here’s that DISD story, from 1980. It was titled “Dallas’ Own Taxpayer-Financed Circus.” Reading it will show you that Wick isn’t exaggerating in his assessment of Rowland’s talent. It will also make you appreciate, even on its bad days, how much the DISD board has improved.

Another classic Rowland piece was this 1979 cover story titled “How We Got American Airlines.” I’ll give you just the first sentence: “Ray Hutchison sat alone in his downtown office suite, staring morosely out of his 13th-floor window into the December darkness, taking nervous drags off his cigarette and mumbling epithets, all of which seemed to contain the phrase ‘those damned Yankees.’”

Lastly, you might want to read his 1980 story about the Medrano family, titled “The Lords of Little Mexico.” Subhead: “It’s no coincidence that the only Mexican-American elected officials in Dallas are named Medrano.” The story holds lessons that still apply today.

No other media outlet in Dallas in 1980 was publishing stories like the sort Rowland was turning out. Rowland’s work for D helped establish the magazine, and everyone who works here today, even those who never knew him, owe him a debt of gratitude.

Rowland was 72 when he suffered a heart attack and died last week outside his home in Ecuador. He was an editor for The Meeting Professional, whose obituary for him you can read here. TMP tells us: “His wife, Donna Smith Stiteler, who is a freelance writer for The Meeting Professional, said her husband was returning from the store with a cake for a young boy he was teaching English to when he collapsed.”

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