Lowe dies at 69

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, June 11, 2002

&uot;The measure of a man is determined by how he loves, who he lifts and what he leaves.&uot;

It was apparent last Saturday that those words described business leader, community leader and friend to all Johnny Lowe.

Lowe died last week at the age of 69.

&uot;There was more to this man than we saw,&uot; said one of the ministers who spoke at Lowe’s funeral, which was attended by hundreds of Shelby County residents.

The Rev. Mike Miller spoke of the encouragement he received from Lowe.

&uot;He leaves in my heart the image of a Christ-like person,&uot; Rev. Miller said to the agreement of those gathered at the First Baptist Church in Columbiana on Saturday.

Those same mourners wiped away tears when Columbiana Mayor Allan Lowe came to the podium to remember his father.

&uot;Two days ago, I lost my father, my most trusted adviser, my teacher, my best friend,&uot; Mayor Lowe said. &uot;My father was an amazing man &045; by far, the best man I’ve ever known.&uot;

Mayor Lowe spoke fondly of his father’s service to the United States Army, to the Army Reserves, to the city of Columbiana and to Shelby County.

&uot;It will take a group of men to fill this gentleman’s shoes,&uot; he said.

Those gathered for the funeral agreed. In fact, many knew firsthand of Lowe’s tireless efforts for children and senior citizens alike.

Sue Tedford, head of Shelby County Senior Services, had worked with Lowe for a long time.

&uot;I just don’t really know what we’ll do without him,&uot; she said.

&uot;He’s been board chairman for many years. He’s supported us through all sorts of trouble. He’s part of the Aging family. We will miss him very, very much. I don’t think we’ll ever fill his shoes.

&uot;Johnny did things no one ever knew, and he didn’t want any glory. He was a good man, and there aren’t very many of those left,&uot; she said.

Tedford recalled that the growth of the Shelby County Senior Services program was due largely to Lowe’s work.

&uot;We’re delivering more meals than ever before and it’s because he worked to obtain funds so we could deliver to areas we had never gone before,&uot; she said, indicating he was the reason weekend meals are now available as well.

&uot;He has helped to expand the program in every way,&uot; Tedford said.

Longtime friend Bonnie Atchison remembers Lowe dressing as Santa Claus for the senior citizens.

&uot;They loved it,&uot; she said. &uot;And he loved to do it. I wonder who’s going to do that now.&uot;

Atchison said Lowe played a major role in the creation and continuation of the Liberty Day celebration in Columbiana.

&uot;He was there from its inception &045; one of the founders,&uot; she said.

&uot;And when there was the threat of no Liberty Day, he wrote a letter to the editor of the Shelby County Reporter. Everybody had a fit. We got the mayor (of a previous administration) to agree to help with it.&uot;

Lowe had not been as involved in the planning of the 2002 Liberty Day celebration.

During the funeral, Mayor Lowe said his father had put together the parade every year since the beginning. This year, before his father’s death, Mayor Lowe said he was going to nominate him for Grand Marshal of the annual parade.

Atchison said she also remembers Lowe’s love for the Columbiana Rotary Club.

&uot;That was his baby,&uot; she said. &uot;He maintained it, always focused on the importance of having a Rotary Club here in Columbiana.&uot;

Lowe did &uot;wonderful things no one ever knew,&uot; Atchison said.

She recalls that every year he would rent a limousine to take members of the special education class at the Shelby County School of Technology to the SCHS prom.

&uot;He saw that every girl had an evening dress and every boy had a tux. He took them to the prom and then took them to dinner,&uot; she said. &uot;He was the person who went the extra mile.&uot;

Shelby County Commissioner and former SOT principal Dan Acker remembers that as well.

&uot;He would help the students who couldn’t afford it to go to the prom,&uot; Acker said. &uot;They never will forget that experience.&uot;

Acker said every year, Lowe would invite the students to his home to swim in the pool and ride on his pontoon boat.

&uot;He would invite them out there and feed them &045; all at his personal experience,&uot; Acker said.

Atchison said his care for Shelby County’s children was due to his childhood.

&uot;His mother had to work at any job she could to keep a roof over his head,&uot; she said. &uot;They were very, very poor.&uot;

Atchison said Lowe did a lot for Shelby County.

&uot;He loved this county and did so much for it,&uot; she said, indicating his service at the South Shelby Chamber of Commerce, the county’s Board of Equalization, the board of the Shelby County Historical Society and more.

&uot;Those were mighty big shoes, and it’s going to be mighty hard to get all these jobs completed,&uot; she said.

On Monday, the County Commission passed a resolution honoring Lowe for &uot;years of dedication and commitment to the citizens of Shelby County.&uot;

The resolution stated that Lowe &uot;humbly served Shelby County&uot; and &uot;worked tirelessly&uot; for its citizens.

&uot;There are hundreds of recipients of his acts of kindness,&uot; the resolution stated.

Lowe is survived by his wife of 44 years, Jean Foster Lowe; two children, Mayor Lowe and Tracy Suzanne Lowe; one daughter-in-law, Scarlott Lowe; and four grandchildren, Ryan, Karlie, Caleb and Caroline.

Lowe was a member of the First Baptist Church of Columbiana, serving on the finance committee. He also owned a business in Columbiana, Lowe Realty.

He was president of the Rotary Club; board member and past president of the Shelby County Economic and Industrial Development Authority; vice chairman of the Committee of 19; a board member for the Greater Shelby County Education Foundation; a board member and past president of the South Shelby Chamber of Commerce; and a member of the Greater Shelby County Chamber of Commerce.

In addition, he served as land commissioner for the court system on land condemnations; was chairman of the Meals on Wheels Board of Shelby Senior Services; and served as vice chairman of RSVP.

In addition, he was a member of the Columbiana Masonic Lodge and served in the United States Army National Guard

for some 40 years.

Lowe was buried at Pinelawn Cemetery with full military honors. The family has requested that memorials in Lowe’s honor be made to a scholarship fund which has been set up at both First National Bank and Regions Bank in Columbiana