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Former Anchor Tracy Rowlett Reflects On Retirement, Career

By Karen Borta, CBS 11 News
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Former CBS 11 News anchor Tracy Rowlett.

Former CBS 11 News anchor Tracy Rowlett.

FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) – It’s been more than two and a half years since one of the most beloved anchors the Dallas-Fort Worth Area walked off the CBS 11 set for the last time.

Tracy Rowlett retired in 2008.

Since then, he’s focused his time and attention on someone very close to his heart. In an interview any parent would appreciate, Rowlett opened up about the importance of raising his son.

Even before Tracy signed off for the last time at CBS 11 in July of 2008, he’d found a haven at his lake house at Lake Cypress Springs in East Texas.

“Jill has often said, even before I left the news business, that this was a place of real retreat for me,” Rowlett said. “She could tell about five or 10 minutes after we got here that my shoulders would slump a little and suddenly the tension would roll off.”

Rowlett spends as much time at the lake house as possible—at least two days each week—but in the summertime, he said he’s sometimes there for a couple of weeks.  When he’s not taking care of the property, he spends his time reading, taking pictures and relishing the quiet.

But the source of true joy in his life is his wife of more than 25 years, Jill, and their now 24-year-old son, Michael.

“Michael is, um, just a great blessing in our lives. You don’t think of that when you have an autistic child or a child with special needs, but you certainly grow to appreciate the blessing God has given you,” Rowlett said with a smile.

And it’s Michael who’s been the primary motivation behind some of the major decisions in his father’s life.

It was his need to provide a lifetime of financial care for Michael that prompted Tracy in 1999 to leave his longtime television home, WFAA Channel 8 to join CBS 11.

And it’s Michael who’s benefiting from his retirement now. At times, Rowlett even gets emotional when he thinks of how close he and Michael have become.

Since Tracy no longer has to deal with the demands and long hours attached to the journalism business, he has more time to spend with Michael and has been able to get him to do something he and Jill once thought impossible.

“It’s a great breakthrough to sit down with Michael and to get him to eat things,” Rowlett said.  “I’ve been able to get him to do things that the specialists in the area of the feeding therapists and so forth were not able to do.”

Jill Rowlett agreed, adding “never say never.”

“I used to say never. I’d given up. I thought he was never, ever going to eat anything except yogurt and nutritional supplement drinks, and lo and behold, a miracle – never say never,” Jill laughed.

And because Rowlett is able to work with Michael in what he calls “Daddy School”, Michael has also made great strides with his education. Rowlett’s new hope is that Michael will soon be reading and understanding simple stories.

As wonderful as life is for Rowlett now, one event did briefly cast a shadow over it.

When he retired from television news, he and two highly regarded producer friends were hired to start an Internet newscast that dealt exclusively with issues relating to natural gas drilling.  Chesapeake Energy sponsored the newscast.

Some critics argued it was merely an endorsement—not actual news—which especially rankled because endorsements are something Rowlett has said he’d never do.

“We had a wonderful idea that we were never able to get off the ground,” he said. So, yeah. I felt frustrated and a little hurt.”

Tracy never got to prove his accusers wrong because the newscast was shelved with the downturn in the economy before their first story aired.

But he said he has no regrets, and is just grateful he’s young enough and healthy enough to enjoy this time in his life.

“The three of us – Michael, Jill and I – are a really tight knit group,” Rowlett said. “The true joy in being retired is I’m able to spend my days now with these people I love so much.”

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