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Remembering Judy Lowe

Del Ray loses a friendly neighborhood icon.

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, . Adam Gerard spoke with Judy in December about her dog Casey. To read his article, .

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.

Ellie November 30, 2011 at 02:08 PM
My first interaction with Judy Lowe happened by email in early 1999. My husband and I were living in the "suburbs" in Falls Church and were looking to live closer in, in a real neighborhood with more character and sidewalks and places we could walk. I got wind of a place called Del Ray, and after searching it out on the web, I landed on the Del Ray Citizens site. I found an email link and sent a note, not really expecting that I would get a reply. Almost immediately I got a very warm response from Judy Lowe with all kinds of interesting details about the neighborhood. Talk about being an ambassador for Del Ray! We had some back and forth and when I asked if she knew of any houses, she referred me to a few agents and buyer brokers. The rest is history: we moved in in January 2000 and when I met Judy soon after at a citizen's meeting, she remembered me and gave me a welcoming hug. We discovered that we lived near each other, at which point she explained that we both lived in "the unit block." I looked at her blankly… being from the suburbs, that was a new term on me. However, since then I have explained "unit block" to other neighbors and friends who have moved in the neighborhood, and when I explain it, I smile thinking of Judy Lowe. -- Ellie Regan and Peter Garafola
Drew Hansen (Editor) November 30, 2011 at 02:30 PM
This was sent out by the Del Ray Citizens Association last night. I have been told a larger venue might be needed, so we'll let you know if there are updates. Judy’s viewing will be at Everly Wheatley Funeral Home, 1500 West Braddock Road on Friday, December 2 from 6:00 until 8:00 PM. The funeral service is also at Everly Wheatley on Saturday, December 3 at 3:00 PM. In lieu of flowers, the family has suggested contributions be sent to the Del Ray Citizens Association at P.O. Box 2233, Alexandria 22301. Please reference “Judy Lowe Memorial” on the memo line of your check. DRCA will work with Judy's family to find a fitting tribute to this legendary lady.
Lonnie C. Rich November 30, 2011 at 02:35 PM
Judy Lowe is one of a kind. She loved and was loved by so many people. She worked as hard as anyone in Del Ray to make our community an inviting, homey place to live, raise a family, interact at the polls or on Mt. Vernon. Judy was one of the first people I got to know when I moved to Del Ray in 1976. I lived at 9 W. Mt. Ida and she lived at 14. She was an ardent Democrat, but a loyal friend first. When Democrat Jim Moran bolted the party to run as an Independent against Chuck Beatley for Mayor, Judy (and most others in Del Ray) went with Jim Moran. Judy was part of Moran's inner circle. The election was pretty nasty -- pitting friend against friend. I actively supported Beatley, who was decisively beaten by Moran. My friendship with Judy, however, never changed. Some years later, when I was on City Council, Judy became my Council Aide -- and what an aide she was. Knowing everybody, she had the pulse of the community. She handled so many constituent issues and kept me apprised about what I ought to be doing or not doing. While I had my share of political drama, it was always of my own doing and not for lack of informed advice from Judy. Judy is probably the best friend Del Ray has had. She has been incredibly loyal to Del Ray, has been an active, positive force for so many years, has been a big personality, and has been full of life and invigorated many others. We love you Judy and will miss you.
Drew Hansen (Editor) November 30, 2011 at 02:46 PM
The venue for Judy's funeral has changed. Due to the expected high attendance, it will be held at 4 p.m. Saturday at Del Ray United Methodist Church at 100 E. Windsor Avenue, Alexandria, VA 22301.
Kevin Beekman November 30, 2011 at 02:58 PM
Well done, Drew. Thanks.
Jennifer Atkins November 30, 2011 at 03:00 PM
Like others, I remember that Judy was one of the first people I met and got to know in Del Ray and, as she did with others, she welcomed me with open arms. She had such a wonderful love of this community that I couldn't help but fall in love with it too. I always looked forward to DRCA meetings because I knew that I would sit with Judy. I will never forget the twinkle in her eye and that wonderful laugh as she told stories about Del Ray. The world, particularly our little corner of it, is a far better place for having had Judy in it.
Marlin G. Lord November 30, 2011 at 03:12 PM
Judy has been my friend for 45 years and we lived about a block apart, she on Mount Ida and me around the corner on Hickory Street. She can be said to be a mentor for me from the time I served a President of Del Ray Citizens and then on to the Park and Recreations Commission (73-93). My kids went to school with her kids. and as we went through the years of dealing with planning issues such as Potomac Yard she was front in center always reminding those in the meetings of her pet peave of those who call Monroe Avenue, Monroe Street. Sitting next to her, you could hear her take a deep breath and growl out that it was "Avenue" not "Street". Judy, we will carry on to achieve your dreams and Thank You for all you did to make Del Ray what it is today. Marlin G. Lord
Skyebluesurfdiva November 30, 2011 at 04:25 PM
I met Judy some 13 years ago, having just moved to Del Ray from Nashville, TN with my husband and three month old daughter. I joined the Del Ray Citizens Association, among many other groups, to get to know people and one of the first people I met was Judy. She was like the Del Ray Welcome Wagon and was always certain to say hello to me everywhere I saw her. And I wound up seeing her a lot! Living on Russell Road I either was running or driving back and forth on Mt. Ida and she would always shout out to me or tell me she would see me from her window inside. I felt at home in Del Ray because of her. She always greeted me with a warm hello, always made time to stop and chat and accepted me even though I was one of Alexandria's only Hummer-driving Republicans. She didn't seem to let politics get in the way of a good friendship - a quality I MOST admire. As a result of knowing her, I made many other great friends (mostly democrats, very few republicans!) and consider it such an honor and privilege to have both known her and call her a friend. I drove by her house again this morning, and waved instinctually, to say both hello and goodbye to a great lady in anybody's book. I miss you Judy. God bless you and keep you!
Liz Davis November 30, 2011 at 07:57 PM
Well said,Drew,well said. She was Del Ray's biggest cheer leader. I will miss her.
judith purdy November 30, 2011 at 08:20 PM
I am absolutely heartbroken--we always ran into each other at CVS or Giant and I always loved talking to her. Godspeed Judy--you will be missed Judy Purdy
Beth Silver November 30, 2011 at 08:44 PM
I have lived in Alexandria for all of my 51 years, and I can not remember a time when Judy wasn't an important person in my life - as a mentor, true friend and hilarious co-conspirator. When she folded me into her arms and laughed that wonderfully throaty laugh of hers, she exuded a warmth and joyfulness that transcended all sorrows (yes, even a loss to the Republicans!) - May her spirit live on in all of us who were lucky enough to know her...
Tina Games November 30, 2011 at 08:48 PM
What a beautiful tribute to a beautiful woman. Thank you, Drew! As one of Judy's neighbors on West Mount Ida Avenue and one of the first who saw her carried away on Monday morning, I sit with a heavy heart. But it's balanced by a state of gratitude for the gift of knowing one of the most remarkable women I will ever know in my lifetime. I love you, Judy! I always have and I always will. And thank you for loving me! Sending you much love and light - ALWAYS! ~ Tina
Maggie Rivers December 01, 2011 at 04:55 AM
I moved into 15 W. Mt Ida in April of 1974. She was the first person on the street to greet me and my family. I was a young mother who really needed a friend. she was there for me always. Judy and I had a long and wonderful friendship. We had so many wacky moments that I sometimes felt like "Lucy and Ethel". Obviously there was the civic-minded, hard working woman---but she was so much fun to be with. Go to a party with Judy and you were guaranteed a good time. She knew most people and made a point to introduce herself and make a friend of those she didn't know. She loved her life here and I'm glad she was able to pass away in her home quietly here in Del Ray. I'm sad to lose her. I'll miss her dearly.
Lin Hiley December 01, 2011 at 08:10 PM
How sad to hear about Judy's passing. I met Judy the first time on the corner of Mt. Vernon Avenue & Randolph to cheer for the turkey-trotters one Thanksgiving morning. I returned every year because of her friendliness and expert cheering. She was a friendly, familiar face. What a legacy, to be remembered by so many this way - for gentle kindness in passing.
Nancy Rowe December 02, 2011 at 05:27 PM
When John and I first moved here from Massachusetts, we were lucky enough to purchase our first home at 13 West Mount Ida Ave. We met Judy right away. She helped us connect to and feel part of the community but also part of the Del Ray family. It was 1975 and we brought two little boys home from the hospital into the warmth and love of caring and committed folks who worked hard and helped one another renovate their homes, celebrated together, laughed together, and pitched in to make Del Ray the thriving sought after place that it is. Judy was the person who encouraged me to become the treasurer of the Del Ray Citizen's Association when Anne Martone was president and my dear friend Jim Moran was Vice President. We laughed heartily when people kept mixing us up- "Judy Lowe and Nancy Rowe-" one of the highest compliments I have ever received! I feel so lucky to have shared coffee with her at St. Elmo's just a few weeks ago... Judy was my dear friend of 36 years and I will miss her smile and wonderful laugh so very much! Nancy Rowe
Paul & Patrice Linehan December 04, 2011 at 11:44 PM
Judy was - and will forever be - our very dear friend and Mother to us in Del Ray. When we came here in 1995, she welcomed us and introduced us to so many wonderful friends and the best neighborhood in the world. She was there to share so many good times with us; always a warm, loving, and smiling face at Del Ray, ADC, and parties. She informed us, supported us, visited us on the birth of our sons, and shared in a wonderful last birthday party for Ms Kate Daniels - another dear friend and long-time Del Ray icon. Her lasting memory and spirit will forever be part of Del Ray in all that it was, is, and will become. We are blessed to have spent time with her, and will always cherish our memories. Judy leaves a legacy that teaches us the importance of community and caring for one another. With all our love and heartfelt condolences. Paul, Patrice, Kai and Cade Linehan
missmelanie_02@yahoo.com May 20, 2013 at 11:08 PM
I must tell you all, thank you from my whole heart for sharing your memories of our Mom. She sure is "one of a kind" and each of us, Stephanie, Chip and I have learned, put together, we might equal her one day. It warms my heart more then words can show the depth to which Mommy meant to so many and the ways she touched everyone in Del Ray. OH yes Del Ray IS HOME. And mostly made so by all the friends we have there.

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