Thankful for the support
WEIRTON — Chad Rowland said following the deaths of his wife, Melissa, and stepdaughter, Madison “Flo” Crowe, he often experiences conflicting emotions.
“One day you’re angry and one day you’re sad. Sometimes you’re just going through the motions,” he said.
A case is pending against a juvenile arrested in connection with the shooting deaths of the two at their Ardmore Avenue home on Sept. 24.
While attempting to come to terms with such a tragedy, Rowland said he’s been moved by the support and assistance he and his family have received from others.
Rowland said it’s come from not only local residents but also people in other areas, and he wants to express his appreciation to all of them.
“There are so many who have done so much. How do you tell the world thank you?” he said.
Rowland said he was moved by measures taken by Madison’s teammates on the Weir High School soccer team, their coaches and school officials to remember her.
The Red Riders have been wearing warmup jerseys of sky blue, Madison’s favorite color, and bearing her number, 3, in angel’s wings on back; while her jersey has hung on a nearby fence during each game.
The team also has played the first three minutes of each game without an 11th player.
Rowland noted Madison’s number also has been retired “so no other player will have it, which is really awesome.”
He said the tributes have extended to other schools, with players at Fairmont Senior High School wearing warmup shirts with her name and observing a moment of silence for her at their game against Grafton.
And bracelets bearing Madison’s number and a donation to the memorial fund established in her name were sent to her family from Poca High School in Putnam County.
Poca’s soccer team has played against the Red Riders, while players at Fairmont competed against Madison when she was in a traveling soccer league.
Rowland, who coached for the league, said Madison was friendly and kind in everyday life but, “You put her on the field and she was the fiercest player. Whoever the best players (on the opposing teams) were, they put her against them.”
She had been named player of the week several times while playing for the league and as a sophomore, was in her second year on Weir’s variety soccer team.
Rowland had given nicknames to each of his daughters, so he dubbed her “Mad Flo,” noting, “She just flowed around the field. It was like she was floating.”
Madison liked the name and it quickly caught on with teammates and friends,” Rowland said.
“There were people who never knew her as anything but Flo.”
He said his stepdaughter loved to laugh, often telling “bad, corny jokes” and writing humorous stories.
She had sustained minor concussions and two broken fingers while playing soccer and basketball and it may have been her treatment for such injuries that interested her in a becoming a physical therapist, Rowland noted.
“She was a very caring person,” he said, adding she had hoped to work with athletes.
Rowland noted her mother and his wife of seven years, Melissa, worked in healthcare.
She was employed as a nurse’s aide at Trinity Medical Center for 15 years. But growing tired of the long shifts during the latter end of that period, she took online courses to become a pharmacy technician, he said.
When that job would have meant more time away from her family, she became a benefit verification specialist — a work from home position that involved fielding calls from patients about their medications and insurance coverage.
It was a fitting occupation, Rowland said, because Melissa enjoyed helping others.
“If anyone said anything about needing anything, she wanted to help. She was an extremely caring and loving person,” he said, adding she always tried to see the good in everyone.
Rowland said Melissa enjoyed being able to attend her children’s activities and was known at the soccer games for her boisterous nature, including a loud laugh, and wearing flip flops even in winter.
“She had more flip flops than anyone,” he said, adding many friends, including guys, donned the footwear to honor her at the funeral.
Rowland said following their deaths, he received phone calls and cards from many, including a young woman whom he had coached in the soccer league.
He recalled offering support to her as a little girl in the traveling league when she was having a bad day.
“I put my hand on her shoulder and told her she could always count on me,” Rowland said.
“In her card, she said, ‘Coach Rowland, I want you to be able to count on me now.'”
Rowland said assistance and encouragement have come from many, both friends and complete strangers.
“The show of support is something I never could’ve imagined,” he said, adding, “We just wanted to tell everyone thank you.”
Asked about the Madison Crowe Memorial Fund, Rowland said the family would like to raise money for new uniforms for her teammates, noting they often are well worn from the rigorous play of their wearers.
(Scott can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.)