In memory: Max Kearns Lowdermilk

Max Kearns Lowdermilk, 88, passed away on Friday, Oct. 5, at Friendship Village in Tempe, Arizona.

Born on February 2nd, 1930, in Asheville, N.C., Max was the son of Dora Mae Kearns Lowdermilk and Clenden Stedman Lowdermilk. He graduated from Duke University with a B.A. in rural sociology (1952) and an M.A. in counseling and comparative religions (1955). He completed his M.Sc. (1964) and Ph.D. (1972) in agricultural Extension education and agricultural economics at Cornell University. Max received the National Master’s Thesis Stodayk Award (1965) and a Ford Foundation Grant for his Ph.D. research in Pakistan on high yielding wheat varieties (1970).

Max married Mary Virginia Dettor in 1955, and together they moved to Pakistan where they worked for more than 15 years in agricultural development for the United Methodist Church. While in Pakistan, Max was director of the Agricultural Extension and Farmer’s Training Center, implementing a precision land leveling program with improved irrigation practices as well as training farm managers and extension workers. Upon returning to the states, Max worked for Colorado State University¬† teaching rural sociology and conducting research on irrigation and water management in Pakistan, Egypt, and India. While at CSU, Max also served as Director of International Education (1977-1979) and Director of International Training Programs (1979-1980). Max and Mary spent many years working in New Delhi, India, and Cairo, Egypt, for CSU and the U.S. Agency for International Development focusing on irrigation systems, water management and training before retiring to Arizona in 2000.

Compassion and a deep commitment to serve others were central to Max’s life and work. He was a scholar, always reading, writing and asking questions of himself and others. Max studied the history and culture of the Indian subcontinent in great depth and spoke Urdu and Punjabi fluently. Max and Mary traveled the world together, making lifelong friends wherever they lived and worked. He welcomed those of different religions, cultures and nationalities into his life, always showing respect for the beliefs and values of others. Throughout his life Max worked tirelessly to better the lives of those less fortunate. Growing up in North Carolina, Max was an avid sportsman, running cross country and playing tennis, football, and basketball. Max’s love of tennis continued throughout his life, and he played doubles well into his late seventies.

Max is survived by his three children, Mark, Melanee and Michael.

A celebration of life service will be held at 3 p.m. on Feb. 20, at Friendship Village Tempe, Arizona.