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Office of Development
On Families, Fathers & Forestry

By Connie Rogers

Editor's Note: The Josiah Lowe & Hugh Wilcox Scholarship Fund was established in 1996 to assist students pursuing graduate level studies in plant physiology, mycology, and plant pathology in honor of two legendary professors: Josiah Lowe and Hugh Wilcox. The roots of its creation run deep and are intrinsically tied to the relationship between two families: the Lowes and the Andersons

Dr. Josiah L. Lowe (affectionately known as Uncle Joe) and my father, Dr. Olof Campbell Anderson (better known as Andy), were classmates in the College of Forestry in the 1920s and later colleagues in graduate school. Joe and his wife Dolores were close friends of my parents, Andy and Gratia Anderson They spent many hours together at the College, in the Adirondacks and at my grandparent's cottage at the south end of Skaneateles Lake. When Dolores and Joe had a baby daughter in 1935 they named her Gratia, after my mother.

Seven years later I was born, soon after my parents moved to Vermont. Still our families kept in close touch and got together a few times each year. In 1962, Gratia wanted to move to Seattle and I wanted to see my boyfriend at Larson Air Force Base in Moses Lake, WA. Our fathers decided we should go together. Gratia and I had a wonderful cross-country trip in her little red VW bug, visiting historic sites and National Parks along the way. She met my future husband in Moses Lake. The next year we were married and lived on the Air Force Base. I got a job, but had to go to Seattle for a month for training, during which I lived with Gratia.

A few years later my husband and I moved to California, but we still kept in touch with Gratia and visited occasionally. In 2004 she invited us to visit to see the Mariners play the Red Sox. When we arrived, we found both Gratia and her partner, Mary, were in poor health. She asked for my help and gave me her Power of Attorney. Eventually she went to assisted living. I visited her several times/year to make sure she was well cared for. Last February, about a month before her 85th birthday, Gratia died.

Joe Lowe (1905-1997) was a respected professor of botany and mycology at ESF for many years. He was an international expert on wood-decaying fungi. After retiring in 1975 Dr. Lowe continued to do research and received many recognition honors. Gratia's will left her entire estate to a scholarship fund at ESF that honored her father and one of her father's fellow researchers: Dr. Hugh Wilcox.

Gratia and I both had close relationships with our fathers. They taught us to appreciate the outdoors and instilled a love of nature. Our dads were environmentalists before they were defined as such. Gratia wanted to honor her father, of course, but also inspire future ESF students to care for our planet. Her bequest to ESF will spread the seeds our fathers sowed.