Elaine Lowder has lived a full life serving and loving others. She attended BYU and graduated from the College of Education in 1954. She met and married her sweetheart, Ronald D. Lowder and finished her degree while he was in the army. Shortly thereafter, they moved to the Fort Ord military base in California for Ronald to complete his service in the army.
Lowder began her career teaching first grade in Seaside, CA. When her husband completed his service, they went back to Provo, Utah for him to finish his degree in marketing. Lowder taught school in Provo, Utah for that year. After graduation, they moved around for a while before settling in Concord, California, where they raised four boys and one girl.
When Lowder’s children started attending the intermediate school, she began volunteering to help out teachers at school events. She gave freely of her time for 12 years before the principal finally said, “Elaine, you have been volunteering for so long, why don’t we just put you on the payroll!” Lowder enjoyed working at the school and said, “I loved it because I was working with the youth and I felt that was where I was needed.”
One day, a friend referred her to a job working as an advisor for the local newspaper delivery service. They were short of advisors and needed someone who had Lowder’s spunk and ambition. She applied and ended up working there for eleven years.
When Lowder began her new job, she quickly realized that many of the children she was in charge of did not have adequate support from their families. Papers were scheduled to be delivered at 7 a.m., but sometimes the youth were late because their mothers didn’t help them wake up and get ready for their route. She recalled, “I would drive by their homes and if their papers were still on the front porch, I knew exactly which carrier needed help. I would get out of the car, knock on the door, and they would come to the door sheepishly. I would sit and help fold [the papers] and talk to them.” She went on to say, “By golly, over the years those children learned to get up and then we started winning awards for the best service.”
Lowder attributes her success to the education she received at BYU. “[It] enabled me to talk to these kids and encourage them. Without an education, I don’t know if I could have seen through problems and helped the youth. It all plays a part in your education when you learn to deal with others and understand their problems. I never got angry with them. That never served a purpose. Overall, it was just a fun experience.”
Years later, the youth she worked with still recognize Lowder and love her. Her influence and example has reached generations. She teased, “Those kids after all those years recognize me at the store or wherever. Thank goodness I’ve lived a good life. They haven’t caught me doing anything bad!”
After her time as a newspaper delivery advisor, she became the public affairs director for her stake in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. She worked to establish an interfaith choir where all of the concert proceeds were donated to the food bank. She said, “We had the best concert in the Bay Area. . . and, boy, I learned to love a lot of folks outside of my faith.”
To all those considering the field of education, Lowder gives the advice to “serve at every opportunity, put your best foot forward, and love your fellow men.”
Lowder is now a great-grandmother of 19 children. Instead of calling her “great grandma,” the kids call her “grandma great.” Elaine Lowder has truly lived a full and joyous life. Through all her experiences, this is the greatest lesson she has learned: “If you just work hard and stay close to the Lord, things are going to turn out okay.”
Writer: Ashley Young
Contact: Shauna Valentine (801) 422-8562