Rowen Brea Altenburger
(1995 - 2014)

Rowen Brea Altenburger

New York City, United States of America
September 14, 1995

February 11, 2014

It is with deep love and admiration that we celebrate the life and beautiful spirit of Rowen Brea Altenburger. She will forever be remembered as a beloved daughter and sister, gifted artist, and compassionate friend.

Rowen was born to Elizabeth Ann Barrett Altenburger and Eric Tage Altenburger of Short Hills, NJ on September 14, 1995 in New York City. From an early age Rowen had many natural talents, inspiring poetic and creative vision. Rowen’s success as a top student at Millburn High School led her to the Liberal Studies program at NYU, where she was a freshman.

Rowen loved to travel; from her annual family trips to Anguilla and Sweden, to participating in From Houses to Homes where volunteers build homes and improve the lives of the rural poor in Guatemala. Visits to London, Paris and Los Angeles were other highlights..

Every endeavor Rowen pursued, she enthusiastically embraced. In 2013 she was recognized by the Montclair Art Museum for excellence in visual arts and received the Scholastic Art & Writing Gold Key Award for a portrait she created of her mother.

Above all, she forged remarkable relationships with her endless capacity as a true and dedicated friend.

Rowen’s beloved family include her sister Ava Marie; grandparents, Agneta and Kurt “Farmor & Opa” Altenburger and Dorothea “Oma” Barrett (Tom Tafelski) and recently deceased Charles R. Barrett Jr; aunts Carol Barrett Maxwell (Max) and Jacqueline Barrett and uncles Charles Barrett III (Lisa), Peter Altenburger (Denise) and Hans-Joerg Altenburger; ten cherished cousins and extended family.

Visitation will be held at Jacob A Holle Funeral Home, 2122 Millburn Avenue, Maplewood, NJ on Friday, February 21 from 4:00-8:00 pm. A service at the Unitarian Church in Summit, 4 Waldron Avenue, will be held on Saturday, February 22 at 11:00am where the Altenburger Family welcome all to join in the celebration of Rowen’s life by sharing their stories and memories.

In lieu of flowers, gifts in her honor can be made through The RBA (Rowen Brea Altenburger) Foundation.

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Guest Book (25 entries)
Hello Rowen,

When I first found out about what had happened, I was shocked and deeply saddened. Granted, I didn't keep in touch with you, which I regret. I remember you as this radiant girl that I played soccer with, and went to school with. I always considered you to be beautiful, and talented, and extraordinary. You had a wonderful laugh, and you were a friend to me when I first went to MMS.

I am still trying to understand your desire to leave behind this world when you had so much potential, but I hope that you are now happy and in a better place.

I think of you every once in a while, even though we were never overly close. It's times like these when you realize how much of an impact every life truly makes on our own lives.

Rowen, Rest In Peace
Alexandra (Friend)
July 15th, 2014
Rowen - I wish I could tell you that your artwork is stunning. Thank you for leaving it for us. You left a message that the world needs to hear. I hope your family can find some comfort in the memory of your undoubtedly lively and creative spirit.
-Shawna(a stranger and fellow artist.)
shawna atkins (stranger)
March 12th, 2014
This is so unbelievably sad. Rowen was such a bright little star. I grieve for her pain and her passing, and your family's tremendous loss. Keeping you all in my thoughts and sending loving energy your way.
Kim Blackburn
February 23rd, 2014
Dear Liz, Eric, & Ava,
We send you all our love, prayers, and hugs that hold on very tightly, forever. May the love from your family & friends and the memories of your beautiful Rowen give you strength and comfort each day.
With love always, Nealy & Dave
Nealy and David Troll (Friend)
February 23rd, 2014
The story I wrote for you:

There once was this girl who had a vase made from the most precious materials on earth.

This vase was absolutely beautiful—each detail contained within itself an entire world of wonder.

And the girl loved this vase more than anything.

When entertaining guests, the girl would beam with pride whenever someone stopped to admire the beautiful vase.

But some found the vase a little too big for the space it was in. Others found the color to be a little off—The vase was a little too this or not quite enough that.

And they would jokingly point these things out to the girl.

And when she was alone, the girl would think about what these people said, and try to chisel away at the details of the lamp to improve them just a little bit.

Sometimes she would accidently chip off small pieces of the vase.

The girl would try her best to mask these chips and cracks. And for the most part, she did a pretty good job.

But people would still notice the imperfections, and this made the girl feel hurt and sad.

The girl kept asking herself how she could make the vase beautiful again.

And she grew aggressive with her chiseling.

The chips and cracks became increasingly noticeable, and the girl could no longer mask the imprerfections.

Soon she started to hate the sight of the damaged vase.

She would hide it when she entertained guests, sweeping the broken pieces under an inconspicuous piece of furniture.

Her house still looked bright and radiant—most people didn’t even notice that the vase was missing.

But some people would notice, and ask the girl where the vase was.

So she would show them.

She would fall to her knees in front of them, pieces in hand, silently hoping that these people could re-assemble the vase she once cherished so deeply.

Some would look at these pieces and tell her not to worry about the vase, as the house she lived in was so beautiful and she had no reason to be ashamed of it.

Others would see the broken pieces and throw glue at her and instruct her to “fix it”

A few particularly attentive individuals would get on their knees next to her and lend their hands to try and help her fit the pieces back together.

But the pieces were sharp and people would hurt themselves, and they would recoil at the pain.

And at the end of each day the girl would lay the broken pieces across the floor and she would remember that the vase was broken and that she didn’t know how to fix it.

And that’s where the pieces would stay.

As we say goodbye, please believe that one act—one choice—does not define a life or a legacy.

Each detail of the beatiful vase—each moment of compassion, each act of kindness, every shared laugh; her infectious enthusiasm, her warm embrace; the quiet conversations; every hope, every dream—these are the things that great a life and define a legacy.

Samuel Merker (friend)
February 22nd, 2014
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"Thinking about you Rowen! Hope you're surrounded by sweet angels that fuss over you day and night! With love, Shelly"
Shelly Hermann
February 11th, 2016
Pete McCaulen
February 11th, 2016
"Happy Birthday Rowen. I bet you're the most beautiful angel in heaven."
Shelly Hermann
September 14th, 2015
"A candle on your birthday, Rowen."
Marcus A.
September 14th, 2015
"what a pity.she had so many things to live for.RIP"
ariunbat bold
August 24th, 2015
"missing you, always thinking of you"
Lisa Barrett
January 31st, 2015
"I wish you could have seen how much everyone loved you. You're a beautiful soul and talented artist."
Maggie Lopez
April 9th, 2014
"Rest in Peace"
Paul Johann
February 22nd, 2014
"I haven't been able to take my mind off of her. Sending my love and prayers to Ava, Liz, Eric, and everyone else who had the privilege of knowing her. Rest in Peace Rowen."
Anna Lansdon
February 22nd, 2014
"rest in peace"
martin ogolter
February 22nd, 2014

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