Welton Lowry's life remembered
By Scott Bigelow
University has lost one of its great friends and neighbors," said
UNC Pembroke Chancellor Allen C. Meadors.
The Rev. Welton
Lowry died Friday, March 12, 2004 at his home on Deese Road in Pembroke.
He was 91.
Rev. Lowry grew
up on land that would become UNCP. In 1923, he witnessed the construction
of Old Main, the oldest building on campus.
and principal in Robeson and Bladen counties, Rev. Lowry ministered
at several area churches for 69 years.
He attended first
through twelfth grades and received a two-year degree at Cherokee Indian
Normal School of Robeson County (now UNCP). Rev. Lowry returned to complete
requirements for a Bachelor of Science degree in Elementary Education
in 1948. He also received a Master of Arts degree in School Administration
from George Peabody University/Vanderbilt in Nashville, Tenn.
Rev. Lowry blazed
many trails for Lumbee Indians. In 1939, he was among the first American
Indians to enlist in the U.S. Army Air Corps Flying Cadets. He had an
important role in the creation of the national Indian Education Act
(IEA), which provides resources for the education of American Indians.
Perhaps his greatest
cause was federal recognition of Lumbees. He made several trips to Washington,
D.C., to lobby for the cause.
To all who would
listen, Rev. Lowry emphasized that the recognition issue is, first and
foremost, one of honor and respect for the Lumbee. He called the Lumbee
"the most progressive Indians in the United States."
In his obituary
in The Robesonian, the family wrote: "Rev. Lowry's desire was to
witness the federal recognition of the Lumbee Tribe. He took great pride
in working for the recognition of the Lumbees, and he hoped it would
serve the Lumbee people. He dreamed that the world would recognize how
strong the Lumbee people are with or without recognition, and that they
Through his work
with the Burnt Swamp Baptist Association, Rev. Lowry helped forge the
affiliation of the Odum Home and the North Carolina Baptist Orphanage
Homes. He also helped paved the way for construction of the Baptist
Student Union, adjacent to campus.
Rev. Lowry won many
awards for his good works, including the Leo Reno Award from the National
Education Association for his work with American Indians. He was honored
with the Henry Berry Lowrie Award from the Lumbee Regional Development
Awarded an Honorary
Doctorate from UNCP in 1991, here is an excerpt from the official citation
presenting Rev. Lowry: "Rev. Lowry's dedication to people, through
decades of service in the schools and churches of this region, has touched
the lives of many of us. Pembroke State University is proud to present
this Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters to a son of this very land, and
of this institution, Rev. Welton Lowry."
For his long-time
service at the West End Baptist Church, the City of Lumberton officially
proclaimed Sept. 26, 1984 as "Welton Lowry Day."
Rev. Lowry was a
Chancellor's Club member and a past President of the UNCP Alumni Association
and won its Distinguished Service Award in 1983. In 2003, his gift established
"The Ministry Through Education Endowed Scholarship" at UNCP
for undergraduate students majoring in religion or education with a
concentration in religion.
In Rev. Lowry's
youth, the family home was located on the site of Sampson Hall, between
the Sampson-Livermore Library and Old Main. Much of the south end of
campus belonged to the Lowry family.
Born on Sept. 26,
1913, Welton Lowry was the first son of Flora Locklear Lowry and Billy
W. Lowry. Rev. Lowry was preceded in death by his wife, Mary Deese Lowry,
and one son, Virgil Lowry. He is survived by a son, William Allen Lowry,
two daughters, Rose Marie Lowry-Townsend and Flora Gail Williams, and
seven grand children.
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