FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: July 17, 1996; 9:30 p.m.

Helen Lowry, mother of Gov. Mike Lowry, dies

OLYMPIA -- Helen Mary Lowry, mother of Gov. Mike Lowry, passed away tonight at her residence in Olympia. She died peacefully at 6:31 p.m. of kidney disease at the age of 82. Both Gov. Lowry and his sister, Sue Ellen, were at her bedside.

Mrs. Lowry was born Oct. 21, 1913 in St. John in Whitman County where her family originally homesteaded in 1882.

She married Robert Mitchell Lowry in 1933, and they lived in Endicott, also in Whitman County. Robert and Helen were married for 58 years, until Robert's death in 1991, also at the age of 82.

The Lowrys had three children: Mike Lowry, Sue Ellen Lowry (Hibchman) of Bethesda, MD, and Beth Lowry Vertrees, who died in 1990.

While she was still caring for her youngest children, Helen Lowry entered college at the age of 47 and graduated from Washington State University (the alma mater of her three children) with a major in education in 1966. She taught elementary school at LaCrosse School (16 miles southwest of Endicott) for 10 years.

In 1976, she and her family moved to Kettle Falls in Stevens County, and she continued to do substitute teaching at area schools.

"My mother was a wonderful person who I loved very much," Lowry said. "She was an excellent person, a loving mother and I'm very grateful for the tremendous life she had."

Lowry recalled that it was very unusual for a 47-year old woman to enter college in the mid-1960's but that his mother did it and she did it with great success. "She was an excellent teacher and respected by everyone around her ."

"The passing away of both of our parents signals the passing of the pioneer generation," Sue Ellen Lowry said. "My mother's father walked with a wagon train from California to homestead in eastern Washington and my father arrived on an immigrant train from Missouri at the age of four. They both lived in a different time that really shaped them."

Mrs. Lowry moved to Olympia in mid-1993 and lived with her son and his family in the Executive Mansion. She later entered Olympics West retirement home in Tumwater.

Mrs. Lowry is survived by two sisters, Jean Repp of Spokane and Edris Bonnadelli of Moscow, Idaho; four grandchildren, Diane Lowry of Renton, Matthew Hibchman of Bethesda, MD, and Ann Vertrees and Keith Vertrees; and numerous nieces and nephews.

Funeral services will be held Saturday, July 20, in Spokane at a location to be announced. In lieu of flowers, the governor and his sister request that any donations or gifts be sent to the Union Gospel Mission or the Salvation Army in Spokane.

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For more information, please call the Governor's Communications Office at 360-753-6790.