Rowland H. Stiteler, III
May 15, 1947 - June 18, 2019
Rowland H. Stiteler III, a Waco native and story-telling journalist who spent 50 years crafting articles about people and places that were packed with facts while flowing like poetry, died June 18, 2019, in Cuenca, Ecuador, where he had lived for the last five years. He was 72 and collapsed from a heart attack just outside his home, according to Donna Smith Stiteler, his wife of 34 years.
Mr. Stiteler spent most of the last 25 years specializing in reporting on the business of meetings, conferences and conventions. Since 2014, he had been an editor at The Meeting Professional, a publication of Meeting Professionals International (MPI), a Dallas-based trade organization. He had been a freelance writer for the magazine for two decades before joining the staff. He started working as a newspaper reporter while still in college in Waco, where he grew up, and never stopped cranking out articles for newspapers and magazines in Texas, Nebraska and Florida."
Rowland was the love of my life and I cannot imagine life without him," said Ms. Stiteler, who is also a freelance writer for The Meeting Professional. "He was a roller coaster ride – a genius, a gifted journalist with a slew of accolades. He was a veteran and the best storyteller on earth." Ms. Stiteler said her husband was on his way home with a cake he had bought for a young boy he was teaching to speak English when he collapsed.
Mr. Stiteler's editors, colleagues and those he wrote about praised him for his cheerful willingness to tackle any story thrown at him, researching the topic thoroughly and writing with flair. Wick Allison, founder and publisher of D Magazine, a Dallas monthly where Mr. Stiteler was a writer and then the editor from 1978 through 1981, said in a tribute in the magazine he did "great work" on numerous subjects. "He was a shoe-leather reporter who could write like a poet," Allison said. "But mostly he was very good at getting people to talk.
"Leaders of MPI said he would be sorely missed. "If you needed a thoroughly researched article with quotes from all the important sources within 24 hours Rowland was your guy," Blair Potter, managing editor of The Meeting Professional, said in an obituary in the magazine. "But I will really miss Rowland because he was such a great friend, perhaps the world's funniest storyteller and a passionate animal rescuer (alongside his wife Donna), spending many hours volunteering with animal charities such as the SPCA."
Mr. Stiteler was born in Waco on May 15, 1947, and attended public schools here. He attended McLennan Community College for a year before transferring to Baylor University, where he graduated with a journalism degree in 1969. He worked for the Temple Telegram while still an undergraduate and for United Press International briefly after graduation. He served in the Air Force, primarily working in public information in Omaha, NE, where he also worked part time for the Omaha World Herald.He worked for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram before joining D Magazine in 1978. By1983, he was an editor for the Orlando (Fla.) Sentinel Sunday magazine and later worked for an Orlando city magazine. He began doing freelance writing from Orlando in the late 1980s before relocating to the Tampa area.
Mr. Stiteler's first marriage, to Betsy Waters, of Dallas, ended in divorce. He and Donna Smith Stiteler were to celebrate their 34th wedding anniversary the day he died. In addition to her, he is survived by his daughter, Heather; sister, Nanci Felice of Austin; and was preceded in death by his another daughter, Tiffany.