John Lowery to receive Spirit of the Carolinas Award from Gaston Business Association
The Gaston Gazette
The list of awards, honors, and accolades received by Gastonia's John Lowery over the past four-plus decades is long enough to stretch from Spencer Mountain to Crowders Mountain with perhaps a little left over.
Yes, that is an exaggeration, but not much of one.
And, yet another award is about to be added to that number.
At the Gaston Business Association's Salute to Business and Manufacturing Dinner, scheduled for the evening of June 3, Lowery will receive the annual Spirit of the Carolinas Award.
The award, presented annually since 2003, except for the 2020 pandemic year, was created to honor a business leader or manufacturer in Gaston County.
Specifically, "the award is a way to honor the individual behind the success of the company who has demonstrated leadership within their particular industry and citizenship within their community on a local, state, or national level."
Yet when a Gazette reporter meets with Lowery in his spacious home adjacent to the Gaston Country Club to discuss this most recent honor, he is humble, self-deprecating, and quick to give thanks and credit to others.
"My first response, when told of the award, was 'Do what!,'" Lowery said chuckling. "Some very deserving people have received this award in the past. Giants in this county. I feel very honored to have even been considered."
Part of Lowery's life story is a tale of salesmanship, business acumen, and financial success.
From being a young and inexperienced new agent with Jefferson Pilot Life Insurance back in the late 1970s, he rose to grow his own very successful business, WealthPlan Financial Partners, which he sold a few years ago.
Part of Lowery's life story is his battle with lung cancer over the past few years - a battle which now finds the often deadly disease in remission for a third time.
And part of Lowery's life story is his history of community involvement - involvement which he says has always had but one goal: to make Gaston County and the surrounding area a better place to live.
"I learned a long time ago that the only way things will get better is if you, as an individual, decide to act," he reflected. "You can't just hope and wish and pray. You've got to get in there and try to make a difference."
Rather than a long recitation of what those involvements have been and what progress has occurred because of them, a better illustration of the type of man Lowery is and where his priorities lie might come from a single story, a story from nearly 50 years ago.
In the mid-1970s, Lowery was very active in the Lincoln County Jaycees. One year, during an economic recession that hit the local economy hard, he spearheaded an effort to provide Christmas food, gifts, and toys for struggling Lincoln County families.
The effort, Lowery recalled, involved cooperation from a host of grocery and discount stores, as well as contributions from the Jaycees and other community leaders.
By any measure, he said, the work was a success, with dozens of families provided a more merry Christmas in what otherwise would have been a very bleak season. The effort wrapped up on Dec. 10, a couple of weeks before Christmas.
But on Christmas Eve morning, Lowery's phone rang early.
"There was a mother on the line," he remembered. "She said she had no one else to turn to." "She said," and at this point Lowery's eyes fill with tears, his voice catches, and he has to take a moment to gather himself. "She said she was so afraid her children would lose faith in Santa Claus because they would have absolutely nothing for Christmas."
For a moment, Lowery considered telling the distraught mother there was nothing he could do. The moment passed. Lowery recruited a couple of his Jaycee buddies and they went to work. By late afternoon, they had garnered food for the table, toys for the children, and other gifts for the adults. Because of that effort, one family had a merry Christmas morning.
"The special memories are what count," said Lowery. "Not the awards or the honors. The special memories of being able to do something to help someone else. That's what counts."
The Gaston Business Association's Salute to Business and Manufacturing Dinner will be held Thursday, June 3, at the Levine Pavilion at Daniel Stowe Gardens, 6500 S. New Hope Road, Belmont. The reception will begin at 6:15 p.m., with dinner at 7 p.m.
Bill Poteat may be reached at 704-869-1955 or firstname.lastname@example.org.