Memorial Walk

Memorial Walk was created to remember and honor individuals who have been important in the history of our organization — and the lives of our founders, Ed and Darlene Lowe. This includes not only family members and foundation employees but also past employees from the many businesses that Ed Lowe operated including Lowe's Sawdust Company, Lowe's Inc., Big Rock Valley Farm and Edward Lowe Industries Inc. (ELI). Markers include trees and bronze markers. As time passes, we will be including more of the area surrounding Penn Church to remember the individuals who are near and dear to the foundation and the history of Ed and Darlene.

Edward Lowe 1920 - 1995 Founder of the Edward Lowe Foundation Born in 1920 in St. Paul, Minn., Lowe grew up in Cass County, Mich. In 1946, after serving in the Navy, he joined his father’s company, which sold various commodities including industrial absorbents. Among these was a type of clay granule made from fuller’s earth. In 1947 Lowe saw a new market opportunity after giving some fuller’s earth to a neighbor to use as cat box filler.

Two years later he purchased his father’s business and devoted himself to building a national market for Kitty Litter, a simple product that sparked an entirely new industry. By the time he sold the clay division of Edward Lowe Industries (ELI) in 1990, the company had grown to about 600 employees and $165 million in annual sales.

Lowe also had a talent for finding valuable property. Among the 11,238 acres he purchased was Big Rock Valley (BRV), which today serves as headquarters for the foundation. Comprised of approximately 2,000 acres of woodland, farmland, prairie and wetland, BRV not only provides a campus for many of the foundation’s activities but also as an outdoor learning laboratory for researchers.

In addition to his business prowess, Lowe was also known for his efforts to encourage entrepreneurship. Among these is the launch of the Edward Lowe Foundation in 1985, which provides recognition, research and educational activities to support entrepreneurs, with a focus on second-stage companies.
Ray and Anne raised their three daughters (Darlene, Betty and Priscilla Ann) in Three Rivers, Mich. Ray was a serious, hard-working entrepreneur who started his own printing business, which he ran out of his garage. An athletic man, Ray enjoyed golf and spending time with his family.

Anne worked for the city, retiring as deputy clerkfor the city of Three Rivers. She was also a Girl Scout leader for over 20 years and an active leader in their church. Upon their retirement, Ray and Anne moved to Venice, Fla. During their many visits to Big Rock Valley, Ray and Anne observed the tremendous evolution of the property and the Edward Lowe Foundation and expressed pride in Darlene’s role in its creation.
Raymond A. and Anne Barkalow 1915 – 1988 1913 – 2000 Parents of Darlene Lowe Raymond A. Barkalow 1915 – 1988 Anne Barkalow 1913 – 2000 Darlene, Raymond, and Anne
Robert “Bob” (1925 - 2008) and Waneta Follett (1926 - 2018) Bob was Ed Lowe’s first employee. Years of service: 1946 – 1990 Robert “Bob” and Waneta Follett Bob Follett (a poem by Ed Lowe) 35 ain’t long spent
The dad blame days just up and went.
It’s not far back — why just a few —
That he hauled that clay and the sawdust flew.
He built some plants and sacked some litter,
He took care of books and was a babysitter,
He drove like mad to Tennessee
To make sure the shipments out the door would be.
He’s been the guy who’s always there
A little pudgy and with a little less hair.
So let’s give a cheer to our friend, Bob
For to guys like him our hearts do throb.
Bob Follett joined Lowe and Lowe Co. in December 1946 as a truck driver — the company’s only employee. When Ed bought out his father in 1949, Follett continued to work for Ed and became his right-hand man. Instrumental in helping build the Kitty Litter business, Follett tackled whatever task needed to be completed. For example, while Ed was out wooing customers, Follett was back at the office bagging litter. His logistical skills and attention to details provided balance to Ed’s flair for innovation and sales savvy.

Over the years, Follett held a variety of positions, including general manager of plants and corporate secretary. He was the first member of the Lowe’s Inc. board of directors and remained on the board until he retired in 1990.

Waneta was beautiful, intelligent, talented, gracious and always treated everyone she came in contact with the utmost respect, kindness and caring. She and Bob shared over 63 years together before his passing in 2008. Darlene Lowe recalled, "Bob and Waneta were close to Ed throughout every stage of development and evolution of his many businesses, and Ed and I were blessed to have had their support and friendship."
Tom McCauslin 1931 – 2008 Lowe’s Inc. employee Years of service 1957 – 1990 Coming from the Bendix Corp., Tom McCauslin joined Lowe’s Inc. in August 1957 as the company’s first in-house accountant. He then became Lowe’s controller, heading all accounting and data processing operations, as well as credit and collection departments.

In the early 1980s McCauslin advanced to become treasurer and head of administrative services at Lowe’s, and in 1989 he was named senior vice president and assistant to the CEO. He was also a member of the company’s advisory board and its board of control. Throughout the years McCauslin worked closely with Bob Follett and did a lot of troubleshooting for Ed.

Father to four sons, McCauslin loved spending time with his family. He was an avid fisherman and hunter and rarely missed the annual Deer Hunter’s Breakfast held at Big Rock Valley Farms on opening day each November. He is also remembered for his fun-loving nature and spearheading a number of special events, including the early Pickle Barrel Open golf tournaments.
John “Jack” Rand 1924 – 2007 Geological consultant for Lowe’s Inc. Years of service: 1965 – 1985 For two decades, Jack Rand advised Ed Lowe on all aspects of clay production relating to its mining and processing. According to Ed, “Jack Rand was one of the greatest guys to go prospecting with… He really knows his clay!”

Having access to a skilled geologist — especially one who possessed expertise in clay — was critical to Ed’s success. In order to keep up with product demand and remain the leader in the cat box filler industry, Ed needed Rand to find mineral reserves and determine the quantity and quality of clay that could be mined from the reserves. For example, would the clay be light enough in color to use for Kitty Litter — or would it be better suited for industrial absorbent products? Whenever it came to purchasing or expanding property, Ed relied on Rand’s advice for setting up and managing mining operations.
Sheila Haring 1936 – 2011 Edward Lowe Foundation trustee Years of service 1997 – 2000 Sheila Haring was a schoolmate and lifelong friend of Darlene Lowe. After graduating from Stephens College and Ohio University, she joined Amoco Corporation (formerly Standard Oil of Indiana), where she served in a variety of administrative management positions. She worked for Amoco for 33 years in both Chicago and New York City, retiring in 1991.

Haring joined the Edward Lowe Foundation Board of Trustees in January 1997. She resigned from the board in March 1999, but continued as a foundation member until 2000.

Haring was known for her pragmatic nature and strong organizational and communications skills. Among her contributions, Haring was instrumental in overseeing a $250,000 grant to the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry, which the foundation gave to support exhibits on commerce and manufacturing. These exhibits, which remained installed for more than 10 years, introduced the principles of commerce and manufacturing.
John “Big John” Wilson 1938 – 2009 Big Rock Valley Farms employee Years of service 1985 – 2001 John Wilson was initially hired at Big Rock Valley Farms to assist with grounds maintenance and its hay operation. He was also a heavy equipment operator and ran Big Rock Valley’s sawmill, as well as assisting with carpentry and building maintenance. One of his many projects included building the black fence. Built when Ed Lowe began a breeding program for a line of pure, black quarter horses, this fence ran nearly two miles around a portion of Big Rock Valley.

Wilson earned his nickname partly because of his height, but also because his son, John, worked at Big Rock Valley. An outdoor enthusiast, Wilson loved to hunt deer and raccoon. When he retired, his colleagues chipped in and bought him a Remington 22-caliber rifle as a parting gift.
Joe Henson 1921 – 2002 Lowe’s Inc. employee Years of service 1974 – 1985 A former Golden Gloves boxer and U.S. Marine, Joe Henson joined Lowe’s Inc. in 1974 to help with construction work for Jones Is Back, a tourist attraction that sought to recreate the image of a 19th century town.

After the project was completed, Henson remained at Big Rock Valley Farms, assisting with the transformation of a large barn into the Barn House, one of two houses at BRV that Ed and Darlene Lowe lived in. (Today the Barn House is used as a guest house.) He also helped convert another barn into an office for Ed and his staff (now known as the Heritage Center).

Joe was one of three employees in BRV’s physical resources department and worked on both grounds maintenance and carpentry projects, including installing railroad ties at the Haymarket Antiques & Designs barn, headquarters for Darlene Lowe’s interior design business and retail store. Henson was known as a “gentle giant” because of his easygoing nature and considerable stature. Darlene always joked that whenever Joe hung a mirror on his own, he placed it so high that people of average height couldn’t see themselves.
Patricia Keenan 1951 – 2006 Edward Lowe Foundation employee Years of service: 1996 – 2006 Pat Keenan joined the Edward Lowe Foundation in 1996 to work with the AS-400 mainframe computer system. Over the next decade, her job evolved into support for accounting software, payroll processing, inventory of equipment, photo documentation of plants and animals for the physical resources department, and distribution of the Edward Lowe Report, a monthly newsletter the foundation published from 2000 to 2003.

Multitalented both on and off the job, Keenan was a driving force on the Ed Lowe Day Committee and made decorations for numerous company events. She was devoted to her community and served as a reading mentor for several years at the Sam Adams Middle School in Cassopolis. Her creative talents manifested themselves in a variety of ways, from making jewelry to helping a co-worker with her daughter’s wedding. Colleagues say that whenever she got involved in a project, Keenan gave it 110 percent of her energies.
Debra L. Pollock 1950 – 1989 Edward Lowe Foundation employee Years of service: 1996 – 2006 Debra was married to Wally Pollock, the first human relations coordinator for Lowe’s Inc. Mother of three children (Danny, Jessica and Lisa), she was known for her warm, outgoing nature. “Whenever we attended family functions for the organization, Debbie would always go out of her way to visit with new employees and their spouses and make them feel welcome,” says Mike McCuistion, Divisional Vice President of Physical Resources at the Edward Lowe Foundation.

Walter Pollock served the company from 1977 to 1989, becoming vice president of human resources. During his tenure, he developed a cutting edge wellness program for employees as well as benefits that included educational assistance and career development.

Pollock also strengthened the company’s infrastructure by developing and documenting operational processes and procedures. He played a key role in improving the work safety of all Lowe’s Inc. employees and created a mine safety and health administration handbook, which was upheld as a national model. The standards he set for the company’s human relations department continue today at the Edward Lowe Foundation.
Ann McGuiness Dykstra 1925 – 1988 Lowe’s Inc. vendor Ann and her husband, Bill Dykstra, were co-founders of the Dykstra Consulting Group, a strategy and branding firm based in Grand Rapids, Mich. Her tree was the first to be planted in what Ed called the Garden of Friendship, which later became Memorial Walk.

The Dykstras consulted on a wide variety of projects from 1972 to 1980, which reflected Ed Lowe’s diverse interests. Among these were:
Big Rock Valley’s use as a mammalian research and display center.
Advertising for Jones Is Back, a tourist attraction that recreated a small town from the early 1900s.
Packaging for Frenchy Bucksaw prepackaged firewood.
Design of a “tray box” for Tidy Cat.
Market testing for a seasoned flour, an experimental product developed in partnership with Kentucky Kernel Seeds and Flour Co.

In addition, Dykstras introduced Ed in advertisements to help consumers become more familiar with the founder of Lowe’s Inc. (These included moving images as well as still photographs.)
William Dykstra Ann McGuiness Dykstra
Debra Regina Bauters 1955 – 2014 Wife of Don Bauters, Edward Lowe Industries and Foundation Edward Lowe’s early selection of the corporate motto “quality, pride, family” has remained over the years. In 1986 Debbie Bauters joined the “family” when her husband, Don, was hired as an accountant, a job that evolved into his position as director of finance and secretary/treasurer of the Board of Trustees for Edward Lowe Foundation.

Faith and family—five children and an ever-increasing number of grandchildren—were primary in Debbie’s life. Her innate joy in caring about and for others was a perfect fit for her vocation as a nurse, working at the St. Mary’s College infirmary. A skilled and talented homemaker, as well, the lunches she packed for Don earned her a reputation at the office as a great cook.

Her warm and friendly personality and optimistic outlook were an inspiration to others, even as she fought a valiant five-year battle with cancer that eventually took her life. Indeed, Debbie Bauters’ generosity was evidenced when a year after her death, Don related his contribution to Toys for Tots had come from a closet Debbie had kept well-stocked with new toys intended to be given upon occasion to visiting grandchildren
Douglas W. Hutson 1942 – 2013 Big Rock Valley, Lowe’s Inc., E&D Ranch and Foundation employee A skillful carpenter, Doug Hutson started working for Ed Lowe in the early 1970s, when Lowe purchased the property on the main street of Jones, Michigan. Hutson helped transform the buildings into a town of yesteryear theme park Lowe named “Jones Is Back.” It contained such attractions as an opera house, ice cream shop, petting zoo, museum, railroad cars and several novelty stores. Jones Is Back never caught on as a popular tourist destination, and in 1977 the buildings were sold at auction.

Initially a contract laborer, Hutson eventually was hired full time. He saw some of his woodworking projects through from start to finish, using Big Rock Valley’s trees felled, cured and milled at the sawmill on site. Hutson was a key participant in the conversion of an old barn into a residence Ed and Darlene called the Barn House. He also supervised the initial renovation of most of the guesthouses and facilities at the foundation, including changing wooden boxcars into lodging for overnight retreat guests.

“I learned a lot about construction watching Doug,” recalls Jay Suseland, grounds maintenance manager. “He was easy to get along with and well liked by almost everyone,” describing Hutson as “fun-loving” and “the life of the party.”

In the early 90s, Hutson worked during the winter months at the Lowe’s E&D Ranch property in Arcadia, Florida. He and his wife, Linda, also a long-time Lowe’s employee, eventually relocated to Florida and became year-round residents, making their home in Zolfo Springs.
Dr. Ronald S. Paul 1923– 2018 Dr. Ronald S. Paul, a former Director of the Battelle Seattle Research Center and President of Battelle Memorial Institute, passed away on February 24, 2018 at his home in Seattle. He was preceded in death by Margery, his beloved wife of nearly 73 years. He is survived by his daughter and two sons and daughters-in-law: Kathy Crosby of Issaquah, Washington, Bob and Susan Paul of Vancouver, British Columbia, and Jim Paul and Jeanne Morel of Seattle, Washington; and by six grandchildren and five great-grandchildren in the United States and Canada.

In closing, a poem from our founder Ed Lowe:

“Present”

We’re here, you see
Not just to be
A plant not rooted,
A rootless tree.
Engrave the present,
Relate to the past,
Tomorrow, though fog bound,
Will arrive at last.
Firm the footing
Inlaced with steel
For those tomorrow
Its wisdom feel.
So past and present
Have gone at best
Forever tomorrow
Will be laid to rest.