It is with sorrow that the Officers of WFTC report the passing of Rowdy Yates. Many of you are familiar with the many contributions Rowdy Yates lent to the field of therapeutic communities in general and in particularly to the European Federation of Therapeutic Communities, of which he was President, until 2019. WFTC honored Mr. Yates for his lifelong contributions at our awards ceremony held at the World Conference in Bangkok in 2018.
Rowdy will be missed not only for his scholarly research and literary papers, but for the many close personal relationships that he forged in his professional and personal endeavors. The Officers of WFTC send sincere condolences to the family and many friends and associates of our colleague Rowdy Yates.
We share a profound grief at the loss of our dear Rowdy. His contributions are evident in published work and multiple roles displayed across some 5 decades. A powerful compatriot from early on in the TC movement. And his seemingly inexhaustible energy, convivial spirit, musical virility and warm friendship have sustained our mutual journey. I am lonelier and our field has suffered a setback. With much unfinished business his light has dimmed too soon.
I first met Rowdy through Eugenie Cheesmond. I remember it as the late 60s. Rowdy stayed with us in London with his drum and is remembered to this day by our eldest daughter for giving her a giant teddy. We took an evening stroll past a local pub, where upon hearing an Irish band he named the drum and player unseen. On our way to a World Federation Conference in Rome we each believed the other had got the conference details. When we discovered otherwise we stood in a long line, to be told this was a police station not a tourist bureau. The programme involved an audience with the Pope in the sweltering summer heat, for which Rowdy had taken his Donegal tweed suit. Unfortunately, when passing the old fashion lift in Domes Maria, the jacket got caught on the handle and had to be carried in two half’s to the Vatican. In short he was a personable companion with a great sense of humour.
Rowdy was an important influence on me, especially over the years when we worked together in Manchester in the 1980s, and he was also a good and trustworthy friend. Although we have kept only occasional contact since this time, I have continued to hold Rowdy in high regard and to look back fondly on our time working closely together.
In recent months, Rowdy has been kind enough to bring me up to speed with his song-writing and performances which I have greatly enjoyed and appreciated – his death is such a senseless loss and I am sorry that I will not be able to explore Rowdy’s songs further with him face-to-face.
The world will be a duller place without you, Rowdy. Thinking of you, my friend,
On behalf of Fédération Addiction (France) I write to express our deep sadness on hearing the news of Rowdy’s passing. Rowdy was my friend since the 1980s when we met during several EU missions in Western Africa, especially in Cameroon. More recently, he helped us to build a strong TC network in France. A great man, an immense person.
Our condolences to Rowdy’s family, friends and all TC family.
Good Bye, my friend.
When some people pass, you miss them, but life goes on. With those few others they leave a hole in your heart big enough to drive a truck through, and that hole never gets completely filled in your lifetime—for me, Rowdy is the latter.
I met him in 2009 at an EFTC conference at the Hague, next in Slovenia and on and on over these past years at conferences. He invited Naya and me to spend a week with him and Kathleen at their home and touring around Scotland; we invited them both to come to LA and Tucson for a visit and some training.
Just before this terrible pandemic hit, in 2019 the four of us did this two day training in Thessaloniki before the EFTC conference. What a blast that was! I loved Rowdy for his humour, for his wisdom, his love of the TC movement, for his sharp opinions, for his wonderful music.
Of course, I only knew Rowdy for a bit more than a decade, so I missed the early part of his very intense life, but I knew him really as a man for all seasons, heroin addict, counsellor, PhD, researcher, presenter, songwriter, brilliant musician, father, husband, grandfather, farmer, lover of animals and the Scottish landscape and traditions, and a man who punctured hypocrites, particularly our latest round of politicians on both sides of the Atlantic. Last week I was doing a week-long workshop with some of our faculty and played “My Precious One” for them and talked about Rowdy (before I knew anything about his illness)—I had told Rowdy I thought that beautiful song was one of the most eloquent and sad in the last 50 years, I never hear it without tearing up—Rowdy nailed the tragedy of what is happening to innocents all over the planet with his rough, gravelly voice and his huge heart.
Last year we collaborated with Rowdy on his brilliant book on Prison TCs (he did all the work but, characteristically, gave Naya and me undeserved credit). He was a brilliant leader of EFTC, and will leave so many wonderful memories (the final day of the conference we could count on him wearing his kilt!) and so many, many of us that he touched. I could write another 10 paragraphs, but I find myself with tears in my eyes as I write just this…..I love you, Rowdy. Thank you for enriching my life and being my friend.