Thomas Jefferson once famously stated, “I cannot live without books.” Certainly, the late pastor and Indiana University Northwest instructor Rev. Dr. Robert Lowery was a man who would have understood the Founding Father’s attachment to the written word.
“He was an avid reader, almost possessed with books,” Lowery’s daughter, Darby, stated in a letter read by IU Northwest Chancellor Bruce Bergland during the July 16 dedication ceremony for the Rev. Dr. Robert Lowery Commemorative Study Area on the second floor of the Library Conference Center. “His study in the parsonage was stacked with books from floor to ceiling. He instilled a love of books in me and in his grandchildren.
“My father would have been so pleased to know that a study area had been named after him,” her letter concluded.
Indeed, it was Lowery’s love of books that led to the decision to honor the longtime minority studies adjunct professor with a special study area, which was funded through a generous donation by IU Northwest friend and benefactor James Dye.
On Wednesday, university officials and personnel joined parishioners from St. Timothy Community Church in Gary, where Lowery was pastor for nearly 50 years, to inaugurate the new study area and recall the spirit of the man who served Northwest Indiana in so many ways.
“Rev. Lowery was a man with many admirable characteristics,” Bergland said during brief remarks at the ceremony. “His service to the community and his involvement in his many organizational and service affiliations would take many typewritten pages to recount.
“His demonstrated devotion to IU Northwest and this community will be remembered for many years to come,” the Chancellor said.
The study area features a modest monument to Lowery that bears his name, his engraved likeness and one of his favorite phrases – “The Lord’s Blessings.”
“The Lord’s blessings … how many of you are familiar with that phrase?” asked Rosie Washington, vice president of the St. Timothy Board of Trustees, during her remarks. “That was a typical way that our pastor greeted those persons that he met. And he never met a stranger.”
Another of Lowery’s common greetings was “How’s your spirit?” Bergland, quoting one of Lowery’s minority studies colleagues, Associate Professor Raoul Contreras, Ph.D., noted that Lowery’s greetings never sounded like typical throwaway pleasantries.
“He asked that in a way that you could and would want to tell him how your spirit was,” Bergland said.
Lowery, who passed away in July 2007 at age 82, was an adjunct professor at IU Northwest from 1982 until 2002. He also served the community in a variety of other capacities and was a board member for organizations such as the NAACP, the Northwest Indiana Urban League, the Boys and Girls Clubs of Northwest Indiana, the Lake County Mental Health Association, and the Gary Educational Development Foundation, among many others. Lowery was also an inductee into the Gary Steel City Hall of Fame.
The Rev. Dr. Robert Lowery Commemorative Study Area is intended to recognize Lowery’s invaluable contributions to Northwest Indiana and to IU Northwest, and to remind future generations of students of his love for the region and his commitment to education, faith and equality.
Situated in a prominent, window-lit location on the library’s second floor, the space has been outfitted with new chairs and furnishings to complement the monument and draw students to this attractive setting. Community groups will also use the study area as a quiet, relaxed meeting space, a function that the civic-minded Rev. Lowery would have no doubt appreciated.
Bergland thanked James Dye, who was unable to attend the ceremony, for his contribution that made the Rev. Lowery memorial and study area possible. The same donation that funded the new study area will also serve as an endowment dedicated to future capital purchases on behalf of the Library Conference Center.