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July 12, 2000

Dorothea Helen Lowe, 92, First Lady's Mother Agri-Business Co-Founder And Community Advocate

CHICAGO -- Mrs. Dorothea Helen Lowe, 92, of Kankakee, mother of Illinois First Lady Lura Lynn Ryan, mother-in-law of Governor George H. Ryan, and Kankakee area community leader died on Tuesday, July 11, at the Ryan's Kankakee home. A private memorial service for Mrs. Lowe, known as "Sis" and "Nana" to her family, will be held Sunday July 16, at 1:00 p.m. at the Aroma Park Methodist Church.

Mrs. Lowe, and her former husband, the late Lawrence L. Lowe, a farmer from Aroma Park in Kankakee County whom she married on August 17, 1927, founded the Lowe Seed Company in 1937, one of the first hybrid corn seed firms in the United States. The company was nationally known for its pioneering research in hybrid corn development. Mrs. Lowe also served as the president of the Aroma Park School Board in Kankakee County and led many other community efforts.

Mrs. Ryan says Mrs. Lowe was a gracious, caring and highly motivated family person who devoted her entire life to her community, her children and their families. She was noted for volunteering to help in any worthwhile community endeavor.

"My mother always gave of herself to others and always had a ready smile on her face," Mrs. Ryan said. "She was happiest when she was helping others."

Mrs. Lowe was born in Chicago, May 24, 1908 to Dr. William Hanna Roth and Ellen Karen Johnson Roth. Her father, who was a dentist in downtown Chicago, was one of the founders and builders of the St. Andrews Golf Course in West Chicago in the late 1920's. She had one brother, Theodore H. Roth.

She studied horticulture at the University of Illinois and was an organic gardener long before it became popular. As a farm wife and mother of two daughters, she for many years maintained a huge vegetable garden, a poultry flock and tended to many farm duties as well as providing meals for the seed corn workers.

Mrs. Lowe was one of the Kankakee area's most energetic, community-minded advocates. She was President of the Aroma Park School Board when the present Aroma Park School was built. She also was a member of the Aroma Park United Methodist Church Board which undertook the construction of the present Aroma Park Church. She was active in the Garden Club and in the Toastmasters where she used the speaking opportunities to promote horticulture.

Her survivors include: two daughters, Mrs. Patricia Jean Lewis (Thom) of Chesterfield, Missouri; Mrs. Lura Lynn Ryan (George) of Kankakee and Springfield, 11 grandchildren and 20 great grandchildren; her friend and constant caregiver for the past seven years, Nancy J. Smith of Kankakee.

Memorials for Mrs. Lowe have been established at: Pledge for Life, Inc., 189 E Court St; Suite 403, Kankakee, IL 60901; The Lura Lynn Ryan Prevention Research Library, c/o Prevention First, Inc., 720 N. Franklin, Suite 500; Chicago, IL 60610; or the Illinois Executive Mansion Association, c/o Mansion History Publication Project, P .0. Box 1859, Springfield, IL 62705.


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