SOUTHFIELD (WWJ) – Led with a bagpipe ceremony, funeral services for Southfield Fire Chief Keith Rowley were held Saturday morning at Christian Tabernacle Church in Southfield.

Rowley drowned last week while boating with friends on Lake St. Clair. It took dive teams three days to recover the body.

Dozens of fellow firefighters from around Metro Detroit and beyond attended the service dressed in formal uniform attire.

Southfield Fire Battalion Chief Barry White spoke with media before the services got underway.

“The chief and I have been friends, colleagues and coworkers for 29 years. He was a friend of mine, he was a mentor and he was a wonderful leader. Our fire department is stronger because we have Chief Rowley leading us,” he said. “It’s a difficult job at times, but I can never remember Keith — as long as I’ve known him — at the end of the day not having a smile on his face and happy that we were able to serve the citizens.”

(Credit: Chrystal Knight/WWJ Newsradio 950)

(Credit: Chrystal Knight/WWJ Newsradio 950)

Craig Rowley shared childhood memories of his brother.

“He was always joking around and he was the big brother, you know, he was a leader in his job — he’s been a leader his whole life. And he was a goof bucket, you know, every video we have of him as a kid, he lifts his sunglasses up and does his little eyebrow thing,” Craig Rowley said, grinning ear-to-ear.

Rowley, of Milford, was on the lake around 7 p.m. on August 31 when he jumped overboard to fetch a hat that had blown off of the boat operator. That person, a 55-year-old Troy man, was arrested at the scene for operating a watercraft while intoxicated. His name has not been released.

Chief Rowley leaves behind a wife, two adult children, two brothers, a sister and a host of other relatives and friends. He was 58-years-old.

 

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