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Jean Ray Lowe

Jean ( a success story):

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Jean Ray Lowe, 76, Lincoln, died Sunday (12/19/04). Owner, Lowe Brothers Home Building. Certified substance abuse counselor, 22 years at Independence Center and First Step. Born, Falls City (1/9/28), to George and Anna (Sconce) Lowe. Graduated, Bethany School and Lincoln Northeast High School. Served, U.S. Navy, 1946-47. Member: American Legion Post 3. Past member: Home Builders Association. Longtime Cornhusker and Atlanta Braves fan.

Survivors: wife, Elizabeth "Betty" (Waller); daughter, Stephane Lowe and intended, William Rasmussen, Vancouver, Wash.; sons, daughters-in-law, Craig Lowe and Rachel Mulcahy, Mark and Lori Lowe, all Lincoln; daughter, son-in-law, Mary Leanne and Michael Mulligan, Lincoln; sister, Jane Ann Ness, Lincoln; extended family member: Dennis Maun, Denver, Colo.; sisters-in-law, Louise Waller, Leona Disbrow, Erie, Pa., Bertie Lou Lowe, Arva Lowe, both Lincoln; 12 grandchildren; six great-grandchildren; nieces and nephews. Preceded in death by: parents; brothers, Cecil and William; granddaughter, Amanda Mann.

Services:
10 a.m. Wednesday, St. Patrick's Catholic Church, 6126 Morrill Ave. The Revs. David Hintz and Paul Rutten. Rosary: 7 p.m. today, Butherus, Maser & Love Funeral Home, 4040 A St. Visitation: 9 a.m.-9 p.m. today, funeral home. Memorials in lieu of flowers: Independence Center Endowment Fund; Partners in Recovery; St. Patrick's Catholic Church; Catholic Health Initiatives (St. Elizabeth Hospice Care).

Published in the
Lincoln Journal Star on 12/21/2004.

Addiction counselor Lowe dies

BY NANCY HICKS / Lincoln Journal Star

By Nancy Hicks

Lincoln Journal Star

Clients at first feared this skinny little man, hunched in the chair, his piercing blue eyes looking around the therapy circle. It seemed he could read their thoughts.

Eventually most of them came to respect, if not love, the man who refused to accept their excuses and forced them to stop rationalizing their drinking.

Jean Ray Lowe, who worked with thousands of men and women during the two decades he was a counselor with the Independence Center, a hospital-based treatment program for alcoholism and addiction, died Sunday of colon cancer.

Lowe, 76, once a Lincoln homebuilder, became a counselor known for his blunt honesty, his few words and his direct approach.

"In group he would sit forward in his chair and listen," said Jack Buehler, who was Lowe's supervisor for several years.

"He would let someone dig their hole. Let them go deep enough." And then he would apply a favorite phrase — a sarcastic "whoopee" or his trademark "bull****" — to get them in touch with their anger and get them out of self pity, Buehler said.

Lowe retired in 1994 after working 20 years as an inpatient counselor at the Independence Center, a part of Bryan LGH Medical Center. He later worked part-time at First Step, a private outpatient treatment program.

Lowe was a listener who helped people sort through the intellectual gymnastics of their defenses and get in touch with their gut feelings, Buehler said.

It was a combination of gestalt therapy and reality therapy, enhanced by his own battle with alcoholism.

"Jean always told you what you needed to hear, not what you wanted to hear," said Bee Jay Munyon, a retired counselor who worked with Lowe.

"He didn't pad things. So people either really loved him or they didn't like him at all."

Lowe had two weeks of formal training back when many counselors were recovering alcoholics without college degrees and little formal training.

"For a counselor with no formal training, he was a smart guy. In fact, I've never seen anything like it," said Kathy Garman Zajic, now a certified marriage and family therapist in California who was a Lowe client in the late 1970s.

Lowe, she remembers, was like a "prickly pear" who used the confrontational style, yet was able to make people feel safe about disclosing. "He was one of a kind," she said Monday.

"Lowe walked like a Marine sergeant. He had an evil, imposing look to him. You thought you were in trouble as soon as he walked in a room," said Craig Loeck, a Lincoln real estate agent who was a Lowe client in 1983.

"But he was a dear, sweet man. I knew that he loved me. There wasn't any question about that. He was getting paid to rattle my cage. And he did. And I'd always thank him for that."

Funeral services are scheduled at 10 a.m. Wednesday at St. Patrick's Catholic Church. Lowe's survivors include his wife, Betty, two daughters and two sons.

Reach Nancy Hicks at 473-7250 or nhicks@journalstar.com.