Festival of Arts: Board Member Spotlight

Don Rowson

Director Don Rowson

Don Rowson has been a dedicated board member to the Festival of Arts since its inception. It all began a little over years 40 years ago when the visionary John Walgren approached Don with his idea of a western-themed art festival in San Dimas. As the Executive Director of the San Dimas Chamber, John thought his idea might be an interesting component to the city and Don wholeheartedly agreed. Since that time, Don has actively supported the Festival as a board member with his creativity, ingenuity, and skills, as well as with financial support.

Before Don was a festival board member, community and industry leader, he put himself through school by working as an oil field roustabout in Santa Paula, CA. He later became the plant operator for Beverly Hills Water & Power. Don served in the US Army, attended UCLA, and graduated from Claremont Men’s College (now Claremont McKenna College). He is married to Sharon Black of Sherman Oaks.

By 1966 Don was running a new subsidiary of Suburban Gas Company. In 1970 he purchased the young subsidiary Industrial Hydrocarbons and turned it into a family-run corporation located in San Dimas. This company sold over 30 million pounds of hydrocarbons, fluorocarbons and chlorinated solvents every year. By 1984 Don sold the chemical division of the company and turned the remaining division into a consulting firm specializing in life, health, environmental safety, and property protection in aerosol manufacturing.

At the same time as his company soared, Don also dedicated himself to the Festival and has fond memories of the “early days.” He remembers when they invited the artists, the mayor, city councilmen, and community volunteers for huge barbeques in which they served thick New York steaks. He recalls another year when a Train Robbery became the opening event for the Western art exhibition, as well as the following years when the art auctions were held at Via Verde Country Club. As Don says about the Festival, “It’s been a great ride!”

Don and Sharon celebrated 58 years of marriage in June of this year. They have four children, five grandchildren and six great-grandchildren. Their business has taken them all over the world but, after 50 years, they are closing their company and retiring. Even though Don's focus will now be on golf and relaxation, he plans to continue his vital role with the Festival of Arts as its Vice President and Chief Financial Officer.

It cannot be said enough of how very grateful the Festival is of Don Rowson. He has selflessly dedicated his time and resources as a board member and actively remains a creative force in helping to move the Festival forward into the 21 Century.

Part of the Festival of Arts mission is to enrich life in the community through enjoyment and appreciation of the fine and applied arts, and to emphasize student art and education. For more information to join, volunteer or become a Board Member, please call the Festival of Arts office at (909) 599-5374.