There aren’t many people left in Alexandria who remember Willard Kane. He was my grandfather who lived just up the road from Del Ray on E. Taylor Run Parkway. “Grand Bill” has been gone for more than 20 years now, but Judy Lowe told me she knew him. Judy knew everybody.
Sadly, Judy is gone now, too, and Del Ray must cope with the loss of a beloved neighborhood icon and an important link to what used to be.
I can’t recall the moment I met Judy, but it was probably at a Del Ray Citizens Association meeting shortly before the launch of this website. She was the first person who made me feel welcome in this community. I couldn't believe a woman in her 70s could show so much interest in an online news publication. After learning she had worked for the government agency that helped develop this whole Internet thing, well, her web prowess just made sense.
She could surprise you like that.
In truth, Judy was the first ombudsman of Del Ray Patch. Every time I ran into her, she would tell me plain and simple what was incorrect, what she thought could have been done better and when she believed meetings of the Alexandria Republicans were featured too prominently in the events section on the site. Of course, this was all after she gave me a big hug and said she was worried I was working too much and needed a girlfriend.
But when someone has called Del Ray home since 1958, you listen. Her perspective was valuable, not just to the editor of a community news site but to mayors and other city officials. She had seen Alexandria and Del Ray change through the years and she helped make some of that change happen. She never let us forget the goal, which is to make this community and city a better place.
I only knew Judy for a little more than a year. Others certainly knew her much longer, but I still learned from her.
The biggest lesson I took from Judy was about kindness and how not to be shy with it. She was always armed with kind words and sweet stories. She had a way of making people feel comfortable and better about themselves, even when she wasn’t having the best of days. It was her love of people—all people—shining through.
One morning not too long ago she left this message on my Facebook wall:
“Drew - I adore that smiling face picture. I can be down in the dumps and notice that picture and it makes me grin. Thanks and thanks for all your hard work on Del Ray Patch.”
If that doesn’t make a guy’s day, I don’t know what will.
In my almost 30 years, I haven’t met many people as quick and free with words so kind as Judy Lowe.
Like many others, I will miss her immensely. I will miss her perspective. I will miss the way she lit up the auditorium at DRCA meetings. I will miss her emails and her news tips, even the ones that sent me on wild goose chases. I will miss seeing the stuffed bear on her porch wearing a "Moran for Mayor" visor. And I will miss her laugh—a cackle so grand it could put all of Mt. Vernon Avenue at ease.
Judy was profiled in a Del Ray Patch story written by Becky Sirpis last October. To give it a read, click here. Adam Gerard spoke with Judy in December about her dog Casey. To read his article, click here.
Judy’s viewing will be Friday from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Everly Wheatley Funeral Home, 1500 W. Braddock Road. The funeral will be held at 4 p.m. Saturday at Del Ray United Methodist Church, 100 E. Windsor Avenue.
If you have any memories of Judy you’d like to share, please do so in the comments section.