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Throughout her life, Eleanor dedicated her time and energy to community service. She was passionate about politics, education and children’s issues. She worked tirelessly with numerous organizations often serving in a leadership role.
Eleanor Ann (Hawkinson) Lowe was born February 7, 1935 to Willard Hawkinson and Juanita (Geiser) Hawkinson. Eleanor was a proud Kansan raised in the small Swedish community of Marquette, Kansas where she attended school and graduated from Marquette High School in 1953. Eleanor then attended the University of Kansas where she graduated in Liberal Arts with an English major in 1957. At KU Eleanor was a member of the Pi Beta Phi sorority and president of the Panhellenic Association. She was honored as a Hilltopper and was a member of Mortar Board. In 1958 Eleanor worked for Emily Taylor as an assistant to the Dean of Women at KU where she served for 4 years from 1958-1962.
In 1962 Eleanor married James Browne Lowe who was then a law student at KU. Following Jim’s graduation, the couple moved to Kansas City where Jim started his law practice, and the couple raised a family and worked tirelessly in community service. Eleanor loved the Kansas City area where she remained throughout her life, living in Johnson County for the next 58 years. She was a long-time member of Indian Hills Country Club. The couple raised three children, Sarah (Lowe) Murphy, Michael Lowe and John Lowe. Jim passed away at the age of 57 in 1992.
Eleanor was very passionate about educational issues. She was a long time member of the League of Women Voters and the PTA. She was involved as the Shawnee Mission Area Council Legislative Chair. Eleanor also served as an elected member of Shawnee Mission East Advisory Board. She was a founding member of a citizen organization for the Shawnee Mission Schools called People Dedicated to Quality (PDQ) which was active throughout the 1970’s and worked to elect moderate School Board Members. Eleanor was a past board member and President of Kansas Action for Children which is a statewide advocacy group for children with a strong national reputation. She received the Educator of the Year award from the National Education Association (NEA) honoring her service. Eleanor also participated many years on the Foundation Board for the Johnson County Community College and on the Johnson County CASA Advisory Board.
Eleanor was involved in community service throughout her life. She was on the Board of the Kansas Rural Center, and she was a member of the Mission Hills City Council from 1992-1997. Eleanor and Jim were both active members of the Village Presbyterian Church where Eleanor served as an Elder. She was involved with the Johnson County area SRS Advisory Council as Chairman, the Early Childhood Resources Council, the Kansas Child Care Alliance and the Attorney General’s Task Force on Victim’s Rights. In 1990 Eleanor received the United Community Service (UCS) Milton E. Erickson Citizen of the Year Award for her outstanding volunteer leadership.
Another passion for Eleanor was pubic policy. As a self-proclaimed “political junkie” she kept herself informed on local, state and national political issues. She was very active in the Mainstream Coalition which is a non-partisan political organization supporting moderate Kansas politicians. She served as President of Mainstream for three years from 1998-2000. She was on the Mainstream Coalition Board, and she was also on the MAIN*PAC Board, a political action committee. In 2006 Eleanor received the Stand Up, Speak Out Award from Mainstream to honor her service in this organization.
The family would particularly like to thank the staff and caregivers at Bickford at Mission Springs Assisted Living where Eleanor spent the last three and a half years.
Eleanor is survived by her sister Marilyn Hawkinson Swearer (Bill) of Hutchinson, KS, her step sisters Jane Berger Lehmberg (George) of Norfolk, VA, Sally Berger Roper (Jim) of Aurora, CO, her three children, Sarah Lowe Murphy of Acton, MA, Michael Lowe and his wife Kirsten Anthony Lowe of Mission Hills, KS, John Lowe of Mission, KS, and her grandchildren, Peter Murphy, Jenna Murphy, Charlotte Lowe, Cole Anthony and Caroline Anthony.
Due to Covid-19, the family has decided not to hold a public Memorial Service. A private family funeral service has been planned. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations in Eleanor’s memory be made to Kansas Action for Children, Attn: Rochelle Adams, 709 S. Kansas Avenue, Ste. 200, Topeka, KS 66603. https://www.kac.org
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