Ned Lowry

Submitted by Cockcroft on

The Northwestern Chapter and the plant world as a whole lost one of its most well-respected members recently. Dr. Ned M. Lowry passed away of complications from cancer on November 24, 2015. He was 82. A Washington native, Ned was born in Bellingham in 1933. He received his bachelor's degree from the Western Washington College of Education in Bellingham, before attending the University of Washington in Seattle for his doctoral work and earning a PhD in chemistry. In 1957 he married Betty Ragle, also a PhD in chemistry, and they embarked on a life together spanning well over sixty years.

After a stint in Rhode Island working for DuPont, Ned and Betty returned to western Washington where Ned joined the commercial airplanes division of Boeing as an engineer. His career there was long and distinguished, earning him the title of Technical Fellow.

Ned and Betty had a passion for plants--and for seeing them in the wild--that was well-known. They traveled together frequently on botanizing expeditions, and explored much of the western United States together (making three trips to Alaska alone between 2000 and 2006), as well as taking a trip to Patagonia in South America in 2000. These trips allowed Ned to exercise his love for photography as well, and his pictures and descriptions of rare plants in the wild have been the highlight of many a scholarly journal. Ned and Betty's passion was visible closer to home as well, as their garden was legendary and was always a tour stop for visiting members of the plant and rock garden community.

More than anything else, Ned was dedicated to Betty, and was always her staunch protector and partner. When growing health concerns made it difficult for her to continue to maintain their extensive garden, Ned moved them both to a small, quiet house on Whidbey Island where they remained together until his passing.

Ned will be remembered for his kindness, his generosity, and his willingness to help others. Almost until his last day, he was working to help the Northwestern Chapter put together a new website, and answering plant origin questions from members. He was truly a special individual, and his loss will be felt deeply by us all.


Submitted by Lori S. on Wed, 12/09/2015 - 22:12

Very sad news.  It was wonderful to be able to see the Lowry garden when the NARGS annual meeting was held in Everett, Washington.  This was just prior to the Lowry's moving on to their new place - I can't imagine how hard it must have been to leave such a beautiful place, a labour of love.

Indeed very sad news. I had the good fortune when living in Bellevue Washington (close to Seattle), just two towns away from the Lowry homestead, to visit her garden a number of times, always an inspiring experience, their garden filled with unbelievable alpine treasures. The thing I remember the most, is that Betty was able to overcome the daily invasion of banana slugs (they're called that because they're nearly as big as bananas) from the ravine behind her property, she did this by fastidiously maintaining a meters-wide vegetation-cleared slug-bait zone around their property.

Submitted by Saori on Tue, 12/22/2015 - 22:03

I'm very sad as well and still can't believe he has passed... Anytime I asked about plants or for his help, he always responded to me right away. Almost right up until the end, he was giving me information and support for our chapter's new website, and when I asked everyone to send me rock garden pictures, he sent several right away. Even when I asked him for a plant name that he didn't know immediately, he asked around folks and got back to me as soon as he found out...and that was only a couple of days before he passed. I just wish that I had more time to chat with him... I will miss him very much.