‘Heaven received an angel’ - Slain correctional officer Rouleene Clarke Gowans laid to rest
Family, friends and colleagues of slain correctional officer Rouleene Clarke Gowans, who fell victim to a murder-suicide at the hands of her husband Patrick Gowans in April, gathered at the Waltham Park Road New Testament Church of God yesterday to pay their final respects to the woman they fondly called ‘Donna’ and ‘Roxanne’.
Sophia Clarke took mourners through a reflection on her sister’s life, pointing out that although Clarke Gowans was usually quite vibrant and helpful, life dealt the 42-year-old her fair share of ups and downs.
Clarke said that a car accident which claimed the life of her sister’s former lover and the father of her first child, Shantae McDonald, cleared the path for Patrick Gowans to move into her life. It was Patrick, a correctional officer himself, who encouraged her to join the profession and she took his advice.
The relationship developed into marriage and produced Patreeka. The union lasted nearly 16 years, but when the rocky relationship got unbearable, she moved out of the marital home in Portmore, St Catherine, in January.
“Donna was on her way to work when she was taken from us. Heaven, in fact, received an angel that day. She was a confidante and her greatest quality was to encourage people, even the inmates, to make the best of everything and make hay while the sun shines,” Clarke said.
Still reeling from the tragedy, Clarke Gowans’ father told The Sunday Gleaner following the thanksgiving service that he misses her pampering.
“Di man take away my daughter from me. Is one of the wickedest thing ever happen. The Lord knows everything best,” Melford Clarke said. “She was the most quiet and loving girl I know. Sometimes I had to ask her, ‘Why you pampering me so?’”
Her brother, Dane Clarke, said that the family bond will have to become stronger to ensure that the children, who Patrick made orphans, receive all the support they need.
“Donna was always a ray of sunshine. She didn’t deserve this. It is just a tragic situation. I am very happy we have been getting a lot of support from the Department of Correctional Services (DCS), and Merl Grove, where Patreeka attends school. Merl Grove High has been coming around and helping,” he said. “It is very difficult, but I think that once we continue to support each other, we will make it. It’s sad, but what can we do but support the living and ensure her children grow up to be the type of people she would have wanted them to be?”
Clarke Gowans’ former supervisor, H.D. Thompson, who is currently acting overseer in the DCS, also reflected on her positive work attitude.
“When she died, she was working at the Fort Augusta female correctional facility. I worked with her for many years and she is a good girl. She follows instructions and she is a very friendly individual, who is not a slacker. She won’t be easily replaced. She was strong and did her work. I used to be her supervisor at one point, and I can tell you that she never backs down from a task and I was always satisfied,” Thompson told The Gleaner.