|Elizabeth C. Darling Rowell
Elizabeth C. Darling Rowell, 95, a secretary in the U.S. Senate who was named one of the 10 most powerful women in Washington by
McCall's magazine in the early 1950s, died of cardiopulmonary failure and pneumonia June 8 at Virginia Hospital Center in Arlington. She
was an Arlington resident.
Mrs. Rowell, then known as Betty Darling, was near the center of power in the 1940s and early 1950s. She was the administrative assistant
to the secretary of the Senate, Leslie L. Biffle, who was a close friend of Vice President Harry S. Truman.
Mrs. Rowell was the first one to greet Truman as "Mr. President" because he was in a meeting with Biffle when word came from
the White House that President Franklin D. Roosevelt had died. The next day, Truman returned to Biffle's office for lunch with him, Mrs.
Rowell and 17 congressmen. Her contact with the president was frequent; Truman installed a dedicated phone line between his Oval Office
desk and Biffle's office.
She continued to work for Biffle, who became a lobbyist and consultant, until his death in 1966. In 1968, she returned to the Senate to work
in the office of Sen. John C. Stennis (D-Miss.) for the next three years, until retirement.
Mrs. Rowell was born in Purcellville and raised in Washington, where she was a graduate of the old Central High School. She began
working on Capitol Hill in the 1930s.
She was a member of the Discalced Order of Our Lady of Mount Carmel for 63 years, former president of the Catholic Daughters of America
for the Baltimore-Washington archdiocese and former president of the Florence Crittenton Society, a group affiliated with the home for
Her first husband, Jack Darling, died in 1967. Her second husband, Russell Rowell, died in 1994. Two children from her first marriage also
died: Joseph M. Darling in 1995 and Richard C. Darling in 1992.
Survivors include two children from her first marriage, Theresa E. Cummings of Arlington and Jack Darling of Boca Raton, Fla.; 15
grandchildren; and 10 great-grandchildren.