Albeit known for his strong work ethic, Ed is equally remembered for his sense of humor and appreciation for fun.
Dick Follett, son of longtime ELI employee Bob Follett, looks back fondly on numerous times spent with Ed Lowe as a child, including visits to ELI production facilities. “Most of all, I recall Ed’s jolly smile and booming laughter,” Follett says. “He was a man who enjoyed life and lived it to its fullest.”
Employees recall elaborate parties, including one of Ed’s birthday celebrations at Big Rock Valley, which featured a parade with employees from different departments making floats and wearing costumes that honored famous entrepreneurs. For Ed’s 60th birthday, the theme was a child’s party, complete with pony rides. Guests dressed as six-year-olds, and Ed and Darlene surprised everyone by arriving in a helicopter.
— Ed Lowe
In 1986 Ed hosted an “Alice in Wonderland” gala for senior executives and associates. Held at the Ambassador West Hotel in Chicago, the event featured ice sculptures, a dance troupe and actors dressed up as characters from the Lewis Carroll book. Female guests received fur coats with their names embroidered on the inside, and men were given silver medallions custom-made by Tiffany.
Not all the get-togethers were formal affairs, says Jim Dinges, who worked for Ed for 20 years, beginning as an accountant and rising to executive vice president of finance and administration. “Sometimes he would unexpectedly announce to us, ‘Shut it down. We’re going to the back room and have a party.’ ” “It was enjoyable to work for a CEO who thought of the employees,” adds Dinges. “So many events brought all the employees together, and we felt like a family.”
The combination of a strong work ethic and joie de vivre is something Ed shared with his wife, Darlene. “Darlene has a sense of humor that allows her to put up with and share some atrocious clowning from me,” Ed wrote. “She is the co-author of my infallible principle: Make a lot of love and have fun together.”
Ed first met Darlene, founder of an interior design business, while she was wallpapering a client’s kitchen in the early 1970s. This chance meeting led to Darlene’s involvement in numerous projects for ELI, and their professional relationship evolved into a personal one — and eventually their wedding in 1976.
“Darlene understands me,” Ed wrote. “This is like finding a fountain of clear water after a lifetime in the desert.”
The two made an incredible team, observers agree, noting that Darlene had a calming effect on Ed. A true romantic, Ed often wrote poems in her honor and tucked love letters in hidden places for her to discover later.
“Ed often would be in the office and ask, ‘Where’s Dar’ or Where’s Peaches?’ (his pet name for Darlene),” says Goodrich. “When he found out where she was, off he would go. He never wanted to be far from her.”
— Darlene Lowe