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Obituary - James Thomas "Tom" Lowe Sr.


Last updated 3/27/2020 at 11:33am

James Lowe Sr.

James Thomas "Tom" Lowe Sr. peacefully passed away Sunday, March 22, 2020, with family by his side.

Services will be held at a later date.

Memorials in Tom's name may be made to St. Jude Catholic Church or to one's choice. Holland & Bonine has been entrusted with arrangements and services.

Please visit Tom's online memorial page at http://www.hollandbonine.com to leave his family a message of condolence.

The youngest of four children, Tom was born November 20, 1925, in Havre, MT, to Clarence and Margaret (Ryan) Lowe. An official member of Havre High School's class of 1944, Tom actually left school after his sophomore year and worked as a warehouseman, among other odd jobs, until he was inducted into the U.S. Army on Jan. 2, 1944.

As part of F Company, 86th Mountain Infantry, 10th Mountain Division, Private First Class Lowe left Camp Patrick Henry, Virginia, Dec. 10, 1944, aboard the SS Argentina and arrived in Naples, Italy, on Christmas Eve. Serving in the North Apennines and Po River Valley, Pfc. Lowe was engaged in continuous combat including the historic Battle of Riva Ridge which saw his company implement fixed ropes to scale a 2,000 foot ice and snow covered mountainside under the cover of darkness the night of Feb. 18, 1945.

Pfc. Lowe was given a citation for meritorious service in combat April 15, 1945, near Mantino, Italy. When communication equipment failed, Pfc.Lowe volunteered to relay signals from a position of extreme danger from mortar fire. "Many times he faced almost certain death or injury while standing upright to signal back adjusting fire, but with stalwart courage he remained at his post until his company had successfully stormed the mountaintop."

Pfc. Lowe was honorably discharged from the U.S Army May 10, 1946, with numerous qualification badges and decorations including: Sharpshooter Badge with Carbine Bar, Marksman Badge with Mortar and Rifle Bars, Presidential Unit Citation, Good Conduct Medal, two Bronze Stars and a Purple Heart.

After his Army service, Tom returned to Havre and began 64 wonderful years of marriage to Marie Helen (Augst) Lowe Jan. 7, 1947. That same year, Tom began working for the Great Northern Railway, where he advanced to become a diesel electric engine machinist prior to accepting a position with RCA Service Company in 1956.

From 1956-1963, Tom served as a military advisor in Japan and also as a diesel engineer, electromechanical engineer and quality control inspector at Atlas missile complexes in the United States. From 1963-1965, Tom was stationed at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California where he worked as a mechanical technician on Ranger 7, the first space probe of the United States to successfully transmit high-resolution photographs of the surface of the moon back to Earth. Tom was the first technician to successfully secure the Ranger 7 during its pre-launch vibration and thermo-vacuum testing. As a member of the Ranger team, he received a commendation for his significant contribution to the success of the mission.

In 1965, Tom became trained in Saturn Ground Computer Maintenance and proceeded to work as a contracted administrator and supervisor of modifications in NASA's Apollo Program through its final flight in 1972. For his efforts, Tom was awarded for participating in the Apollo program and contributing to the success of the United States' goal of landing Man on the Moon.

Tom returned to the railroad in 1975 as foreman of Burlington Northern's Diesel Shop in Havre, a position he held for 15 years. When he retired in 1990, he had given 21 years of service to his country from World War II through The Space Race. His retirement was earned many times over.

Tom spent his post-retirement years with Marie, their six children, and the many grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and great-great-grandchildren who followed. He enjoyed woodworking, Alabama football, and a glass of Early Times. He was never short of smiles or jokes. Tom was a remarkable man, a good person, a principled individual, and a man of integrity. If we know what makes a good man, it is because he showed us every day.

Tom was preceded in death by his parents, one brother, two sisters, two grandsons, and his wife, Marie.

Tom is survived by six children, Tom (Glenda) Lowe of Havre, Debi (Toney) Hill of Union Grove, Ala., Mary (Jon) Monteaux of Rocky Boy, Barbie (Paul) Ortiz of Imperial Beach, Calif., Lescia (Jerry) Hedalen of Havre, and John (Pennie) Lowe of Great Falls; 12 grandchildren; 22 great-grandchildren; two great-great-grandchildren; and many life-long friends.


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