Donald R. Lowe

My Father, Donald Lowe, passed away Thursday, August 10, 2017. He loved his family and his country with all of his being. He really enjoyed his beloved “Jungle Skippers” and the reunions he attended every year. This eulogy written by my wife and read by my son at his funeral.


A journey in Service to Others - Donald Ross Lowe

There is a picture in the slide show presentation of Don’s life that previously made quite a hit on Facebook when his grandson posted it to help celebrate Don’s 90th birthday.  Most of us here know exactly what that picture was all about.  There, on a powerful looking motorcycle that looked like it was ready to take off full throttle, sat a young, handsome, virile man.  That man was Donald Lowe, and he looked very much in control of the powerful machine that he was sitting on.  In studying that picture and the man on the bike, it is apparent how strong this person looked and how independent he must have been.  It just said so much about a man that we all loved and respected so much. This picture is about a journey and it is time for us to take a look at  Don’s life journey.

Before we travel further on, let us consider another picture in the slide show, the one that shows the start of Don’s journey.  His tall thin father, Truman Lowe, stands proudly behind his wife Florence, who gently cradles her newborn son.  This couple had waited many years for their first child to arrive, but before too long, two daughters and a son would complete the Truman Lowe family.  

Don was fortunate to have such lovely parents.  Truman worked as a farmer, but also would serve his country during the WWI and serve his community as a township trustee. Florence was a great mother and teacher of her children.  She was patient, but insisted that the job be done right.  Her daughters became skilled homemakers and also managed careers outside their households.  Her sons became self reliant, initially starting off in business together, but eventually pursuing work that appealed to each of them. The example these two loving parents set for their children set the course for their children’s future success.

Pictures of the Lowe family growing up show two beautiful young women, Ruth and Jean, as well as two handsome brothers, Donald and Richard.  The siblings always seemed happy together.  There is a a particular picture of these siblings that probably captured Don’s send off to join the Army Air Corp.  Don stood tall and looked like he was willing to accept the difficult challenge of fighting a war very far from Peoria, Ohio.  He was dressed in a suit and held his suitcase, ready to set foot into the wide world.   His sisters and brother stood beside him.  They must have wondered what the future of their 18 year old brother held. 

Don’s service during WWII impacted his entire life.  It seemed that for many years his boys did not know what he did during the war.  After discovering picture albums containing shots of a youthful man in his military uniforms, his sons started asking questions.  Also, members of his military unit began to organize annual reunions, and that is when the family began to understand what it meant to be a Jungle Skipper. As with all war time jobs, Don was assigned one fraught with danger.  His group was responsible for flying supplies to the ground troops.  The planes flew low over the tropical forests, insuring that other soldiers received the supplies necessary to carry on the war.  Since Don served in the Philippines, he was very close to the military action and he did watch the Battle of Leyte Gulf.  When the war ended, Don returned home to find that his mother had left the Christmas tree up far past December 25th. Although honorably discharged from the regular Army-Air Force, Don continued his service to his country for another 20 years in the 83rd ARCOM army reserve unit.

Like many returning WWII vets, Don joined a motorcycle club and that is how the infamous picture of him about to take off on the motorcycle came about.  However, his motorcycle journey did not last too long, since he had found a fine young woman, Warrenetta Ritchie, whom he would marry in 1948.  There was no time now for riding and carousing with the guys on a motorcycle.  Don and Warrenetta’s family would quickly grow with the birth of the three oldest sons, Steve in 1949, Jack in 1950 and then Mike in 1952. These three sons, brought joy for both Don and Warrenetta.  There are many pictures of Don proudly holding these three energetic boys.  In some, the boys wore miniature Army uniforms that Don brought back from summer camp training. The Donald Lowe family however, was not quite finished.  Two younger sons would form a new union of brothers.  Jeff arrived in 1960 followed by Mark in 1963.  These five boys were the pride and joy of both Don and Warrenetta.  These parents would repeat the examples set by their parents and teach the brothers to be self reliant.

During the time that his family grew, Don was journeying forward building his Sohio service station into a business well-known for providing excellent mechanical and customer care to it’s expanding customer base.  Marysville folks knew if their cars needed new brakes or tires, or a fill up and the windows washed, they would be treated with courtesy and expertise.  Don hired many young men and taught them how to work.  Among those men, were his sons and grandson.  Warrenetta also was a frequent sight at the station, working in the office and keeping the paperwork up to date. Those who worked with Don knew that if he scheduled a job for the day, he expected that job to be completed on time.  When the pressure was on,  Don worked harder and expected the same of his employees.  His store was only closed two days a year, Thanksgiving and Christmas, days associated with family gatherings. 

As Don grew his business, he was rewarded by Sohio for his excellence.  Among those rewards, was the accumulation of Sohio points.  These points enabled Don and Warrenetta to become world travelers.  Often, their younger two sons accompanied them on their trips.  Even the three oldest sons enjoyed the fruits of Don’s hard work, when they were invited to travel to Las Vegas with Don, courtesy of his earned points.

Don did not stop serving the public following his retirement.  He ran for and was elected as a Paris Township trustee.  He took this job seriously.  When a constituent called him up about a problem, Don was not satisfied to just listen.  He would get in his truck and travel to the  problem site.  He was then able to deliberate about the appropriate solution to the problem.  With no regular job to go to, Don had time to participate in local service organizations that he had joined.  He became particularly active in the American Legion and served as a post commander and attended Legion conventions throughout  Ohio.  When the Jungle Skippers started their reunions, Don and Warrenetta traveled all over the United States, making new friends and on two occasions serving as hosts for the event.  

When Warrenetta became seriously ill with complications from diabetes, Don became her primary care giver.  He was a skilled care giver, and he never complained about the difficult job of keeping his wife’s damaged feet clean and free of infection.  He always knew the path he needed to be on, and he traveled it faithfully no matter how rough the road was. When Warrenetta, died, Don became a lonely man.

Because he was an active man and liked to be involved, Don took care to keep his body in good physical shape.  He joined the Memorial Health Center, and it was there that a new journey began.  He noticed a volunteer, Vivian Stratton, and decided to take a chance and asked her for a date.  From that first date on, the two became a couple, and within a year, they became husband and wife.  Don had a renewed interest in traveling and during the first years of their marriage, Don made sure that Vivian saw many new places. They continued to travel to the Jungle Skipper reunions and Vivian became a staunch supporter of these former airmen.  Don attended his last military reunion in September at Dyess Air Force Base in Abilene, Texas.  It was at this reunion, that two of his sons witnessed the great respect that the participants gave to this WWII veteran and fellow airman.  


Don’s last day of his life journey included a short trip to check on his beloved garden.  He also took his final flight on that day.  He is a man that we will miss each day.  He provided guidance, but allowed his children to find their way.  If one of his sons presented him with a problem, Don would carefully consider it, and by the next day, he would provide a wise solution to the problem. He gave many young people the opportunity to learn how to work and grow.  He was always there for his family, and never quit returning his time and talent to his country and local community.

Farewell, Don.  Hope your next journey is as grand as the one you shared with us.  Love you.

Take Care!  Love ya!  Jeanne Lowe