Fowler, W. Rodney

UTC Professor, Police Officer, And Author

Wednesday, September 6, 2017
W. Rodney Fowler
W. Rodney Fowler

Dr. W. Rodney Fowler, 79, a distinguished professor, police officer, and author, died on Monday, September 4, 2017, at CHI Memorial Hospital, Hixson.

Dr. Fowler was preceded in death by his parents, Watson Francis and Margaret Douglas Fowler, brother, Gordon Gregory Fowler, and brother-in-law Dr. John Nye.

He is survived by his beloved and devoted wife and true life partner, Melanie Thomas Fowler,  who brought great joy to his life and was a loving, compassionate caregiver, daughter Shannon (Norman) Kelly and grandchildren Erin, Rob and Katie, Diamond Bar, CA, daughter Lacey (Michael) Jacobson and grandchildren Michaela and Madeleine, Stockton, CA, sister Judith  Nye,  Stroudsburg, PA, sister-in-law Carole Fowler, Mill Hall, PA, and brother-and sister-in-law, Dr. Ken and Cynthia Thomas, Ft. Mill, SC.

A professor emeritus at UTC, Dr. Fowler was an elected member of the Council of Scholars, former Coordinator of Counseling Programs, and professor of counseling, criminal justice, and special education.  He achieved Diplomate status in the American Board of Examiners in Crisis Intervention, the Society for Police and Criminal Psychology, International Academy of Health Care Professionals, and International Academy of Behavioral Medicine, Counseling, and Psychotherapy.  During his tenure from 1976 to 2003, Dr. Fowler received numerous awards for teaching, counseling, and research and was a member of Chi Sigma Iota, the international counseling honor society.

A native of Lock Haven, Pa., Dr. Fowler was graduated from Immaculate Conception school. He attended American University where he was a varsity wrestler and swimmer and pledged Alpha Sigma Phi.  He completed a bachelor’s degree at Lock Haven University where he was editor of the “Eagle Eye,” a weekly newspaper, president of College Players drama group, president of the charter chapter of the Council for Exceptional Children, a member of Phi Delta Kappa, Alpha Phi Omega, and Alpha Psi Omega. He was a member of the award-winning university debate team and retired the Outstanding Journalist Chair by winning it three years in a row. His journalistic writing and photography won him Readers Digest Press Scholarships to attend collegiate press conferences with then PA Governor William Scranton and then President Lyndon B. Johnson. While a student at LHU, Dr. Fowler was employed by the Lock Haven Family YMCA as Aquatics Director, swim team coach and judo and karate instructor. He also served as a Clinton County Deputy Sheriff.

Prior to completing his doctoral degree at Ball State University, Fowler was an enlisted member of the US Army, serving stateside and in Europe from 1957 until his honorable discharge in 1963. He worked as a city and state police officer in Arizona, and taught exceptional children in New York, Nevada and California. He completed an M.A. degree at San Diego State University and was employed as an Instructor of psychology and special education at Brescia University in Kentucky. While there, he served as the Chairman of the Green River Crime Council and as a felony squad investigator with the Daviess County Police. During a year of study at Western Kentucky University, he was employed by the Warren County Sheriff’s Department as an undercover narcotics officer.

Following completion of his doctorate, Fowler worked in Germany, England, Greece and Spain. He joined the graduate faculty at UTC in 1976. In 1977, Fowler was commissioned and voted on to the original Chattanooga Police Department SWAT Team. He was cited by local media as the architect of the Contain and Negotiate method of hostage recovery in the Chattanooga area. He is frequently described in professional literature as a pioneer in the field of crisis intervention and police hostage negotiation.  He was a nationally sought-after speaker on topics that included crisis intervention, suicidology and hostage negotiations. He had well over 100 publications in journals of learned societies, the Encyclopedia of Psychology, F.B.I. publications and the International Journal of Police Crisis Negotiations. He organized and led the Chattanooga Police Department’s Hostage Negotiations Team and as a member of both the SWAT and HNT teams was awarded the Police Medal for dedication, courage, and service to the community.  He was a member of the SWAT Team that was named Police Officers of the Year in 1984.

Throughout his distinguished dual careers as professor and police officer, he presented numerous papers and was a consultant to many federal, state, and local agencies.

Rod was an avid collector and consumer of art, books, music, and movies. His police memorabilia collection is legendary.  He believed that hard work and hard play had its rewards and found his first job at age 11.  Throughout his life he frequently had two or three jobs at the same time. Always more curious than cautious, he sought and found adventure wherever he lived and worked until Mother Nature finally slowed him down.  He was gifted with eloquence and could relate tales of his travels in a humorous and hypnotic manner.  He asked that his epitaph read simply, “I lived before I died.”

The family will receive friends from 4-8 p.m. on Monday, Sept. 11, and 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. on Tuesday at Lane Funeral Home, Ashland Terrace.

Funeral services will be conducted at 12:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 12, in the funeral home chapel, with Chaplain Paul Lee officiating.

Interment will follow in Chattanooga National Cemetery with military honors.

Arrangements have been entrusted by Lane Funeral Home on Ashland Terrace, 601 Ashland Terrace, Chattanooga, Tn. 37415, www.lanefh.com.

W. Rodney Fowler
W. Rodney Fowler


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