Dowling, Roderick

DOWLING, Roderick

Roderick "Rod" Anthony Dowling passed away peacefully on November 20, 2021. Born December 29, 1940 in Scarsdale, NY to the late Anne Chisolm Dowling and John Joseph Dowling, Rod was the middle of 5 brothers: John, Peter, Brian, and Robert. When his father, an accomplished attorney, died unexpectedly in 1949, "Roddy" and his brothers took on jobs to help supplement the family's income. Before the age of 10, he had multiple routes as a paperboy and helped at a local dry cleaner. In a story that made the local paper, Roddy along with his mother and three of his brothers were hospitalized for but survived polio.

Rod attended Archbishop Stepinac High School in White Plains, NY and graduated from Fairfield University where he played basketball. He received his law degree from Fordham Law School as the President of his class in 1965, paying for his tuition through multiple jobs as a waiter, lifeguard, and a Fordham scholarship. He began his legal career in New York at Cahill, Gordon & Reindel, where client work took him to Hollywood to investigate the rigging of popular television quiz shows, an ongoing scandal later depicted in Robert Redford's film, Quiz Show. In 1974, Rod moved to Atlanta, GA, where he became General Counsel of Fuqua Enterprises, Inc. After a brief stint as head of investment banking in Atlanta at Bear Stearns, he began in 1981 as head of investment banking for Robinson Humphrey, from which he retired as Chairman in 2010.

Even a good seersucker suit could not quite cover up the fact that Rod remained a Yankee at heart. He returned to New York frequently for family and business, and could often be found in his favorite restaurant, Primavera, or in the reading room of the University Club. But he was at home in Atlanta, where he met his loving wife, Lavinia, had a successful career, and made lifelong friends. Despite aspiring to be a southern gentleman until his death, Rod's latent New York sensibilities usually made an appearance. However, Rod harnessed his New York edge to usher in a new way of doing business in Atlanta. His outward charm housed nerves of steel. His passing marks the end of an era – a more glittering and gracious time when a handshake and big ideas could change an industry. Rod's handshake was always firm, and despite a tendency to be laconic and sometimes terse in business, his head was always swimming with ideas, facts, and figures. There was nary a biography written (particularly on Winston Churchill) or a paper printed that Rod had not read and absorbed during his lifetime.

Rod is remembered by his family and friends as incredibly warm, charismatic, hilarious, generous, and sharing a constant lust for life. He did not let the busyness of life stand in the way of supporting and celebrating the people he loved most. He adored his wife and delighted in his four children and eight grandchildren. He made it a point to be a part of every game, performance, and special moment in their lives. He enjoyed travelling with his family and was happiest near the Maine and South Carolina coasts. During his leisure time, Rod loved the game of golf, spending many hours with family and friends on the links. Even though the score cards were not always kind, legend has it that he scored an Eagle on the 18th hole of Augusta National (or was it the 19th?). In retirement, he spent his time traveling to see his four children whom he loved and perfecting the role as "Grandpa Duck" (speaking to his grandchildren in the voice of Donald Duck).

Rod was dedicated to the Atlanta community, serving as President of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation and supporting countless other local charities. He was an avid Atlanta sports fan, rarely missing an Atlanta Falcons game during 40 consecutive years as a season ticket holder (despite the team never putting together back-to-back winning seasons, much less a championship).

Rod is survived by his wife of 43 years, Lavinia Seibels Dowling; his daughters Anne Chisolm Dowling (Derek B. Hess), Katherine Burke Dowling (Marc H. Axelbaum), Lavinia Dowling Myers (Keith J. Myers), and son Roderick Anthony Dowling, Jr. (Erin M. Dowling); his grandchildren William Roderick Hill Hess, Oliver Blair O'Rahilly Hess, Charles Atticus Axelbaum, Cameron Storey Axelbaum, Phoebe Alexandra Axelbaum, Parker Anne Dowling, Luke Joseph Rudra Myers, and Hayden Flynn Dowling. Rod was previously married to Marianne Maloney Dowling, mother of Anne and Katherine.

Rod's life will be remembered and celebrated by family and friends at time and location to be determined. In lieu of flowers, the family asks friends to consider donating to the Shepherd Center in Atlanta, GA.

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