Dads deserve their day

Published 1:18 pm Tuesday, June 16, 2009

My father died when I was only 10 years old. It was every bit as tough as you can imagine.

A little girl needs her father and I lost mine just when I needed him most.

My Daddy was a good man and loved his children as much as we loved him. Daddy loved sports, too, particularly baseball.

He grew up under difficult circumstances in southeastern Tennessee, but had a special talent. At a very young age, he signed with the St. Louis Cardinals, but never made it to “The Show.”

He spent a number of years playing on what were then known as farm teams — including teams in Montgomery and Andalusia in the 1950s.

Daddy coached my younger brother in Dixie Youth Baseball and, after he died unexpectedly of a heart attack at age 42, the organization named its annual championship after him.

Winning teams were awarded the Jim Griffey Trophy.

I have wondered if players or coaches ever thought about Jim Griffey, asked who he was or wanted to know more about him. He was worth knowing.

I thought about Daddy last week when the South Shelby County Chamber of Commerce awarded six recent college graduates Johnny Lowe Academic Scholarships.

Most everybody at the luncheon knew who Johnny was and what he meant to many in our community, but I didn’t.

In case the six young people who will attend college this fall, in part because of the Johnny Lowe scholarship, didn’t know him either, here’s a little bit I’ve learned about him.

Johnny Lowe was born in Birmingham and died unexpectedly on June 6, 2002, at age 69 after a life of service to Columbiana and all of Shelby County.

He owned Lowe Realty, which is operated today by his wife, Jean. In addition to his son, Allan, who serves as Columbiana mayor, he was father to a daughter, Tracy.

Lowe was a decorated Army veteran. However, his service at home is what made such a difference to so many lives in Shelby County.

Lowe served as board chairman for Shelby County Senior Services and is credited with raising the funds that allowed that group to expand its meal services into many areas of the county, as well as offer weekend meal service.

Lowe was one of the founders of Liberty Day in Columbiana, and was a founder of the South Shelby Chamber of Commerce, as well as the Columbiana Rotary Club.

The Shelby County Reporter ran a story about Lowe’s funeral that said a number of people spoke at the service and shared stories of his good works. There were many.

However, one act particularly stands out in my mind as an example of Lowe’s selflessness.

Lowe would yearly rent a limousine to take members of the special education class at the Shelby County School of Technology to the SCHS prom.

“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. He was the person who went the extra mile,” one mourner said.

Johnny Lowe was a man worth knowing and remembering, and most importantly, worth emulating.

On Sunday — Father’s Day — I’ll remember my father. I will also remember Johnny Lowe and many dads like him who took the time to make a difference in the lives of others.