Columnist Gilreath ‘Gil’ Rowland was never afraid to tackle controversial subjects

Bill Page, the head of Insignia Financial Group, called Greenville Piedmont columnist and reporter Gil Rowland “the conscience of Green ville.” And he was.

Rowland’s warmth, understanding, compassion, and celebration of diversity and tolerance led to that high praise.

Gilreath “Gil” Rowland was teaching English and directing the journalism department at Parker High School in the 1930s when the Piedmont editor asked him to write a weekly column of Parker news for the paper. In the early 1940s, he became a full-time employee of the paper with his daily column called “Good Afternoon.” In it, he addressed in a non-confrontational way controversial subjects like substandard housing and segregation.

In the 1940s, for example, he pled for urban renewal while City Council voted against it. In the late 1960s, he was a champion of integration of public accommodations and later worked to smooth school integration. Often in the minority, he was never afraid to express an opinion. He is one of the 12 founders of Greenville’s Unitarian-Universalist Fellowship.

Gil Rowland retired from the Piedmont in 1973. He died 20 years later.

Editor’s note: For more than 140 years, The Greenville News has told the story of our community and the people who live here. Each day this year we are publishing a brief piece of our history — Greenville’s story.