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Bruce Lowe’s ’78 Memory and Love of NC State Lives On Through Scholarship

By Lea Hart

Bruce Lowe (’78) considered North Carolina State University to be more than just the college he attended. As soon as he had enrolled, the campus community became like family and home.

“He made such great friends,” said Teresa Lowe, Bruce’s wife of 14 years. “They formed a brotherhood, and he carried it with him through his whole life.”

When Bruce died suddenly of a heart attack in 2004 at just 48 years old, his family understandably was devastated.

Bruce Lowe and his son, Brandon

Teresa, Bruce’s parents, Wayne and Barbara Lowe, his brother, Ken Lowe, and sister-in-law, Julia Lowe, a ’92 NC State alumna, wanted to honor his memory. So, too, did Bruces’s son, Brandon, and daughter-in-law Tricia,  For the Lowe family, NC State and Poole College of Management immediately came to mind. Bruce earned his business degree from Poole College, along with a Bachelor of Arts in speech communication from the College of Humanities and Social Sciences.

“The business school was perfect for him,” Ken said of Bruce’s experience at NC State. “He made so many great friends and was a loyal alumnus.”

As the family considered how best to honor Bruce, Ken said creating a scholarship became the obvious choice. Education is important to the Lowe family. Teresa is a teacher. Wayne and Barbara were determined and worked hard to send their sons to college. And, as an alumna herself, Julia shares Bruce’s love and affection for NC State. All were factors that weighed significantly as the Lowe family discerned how best to remember a husband, father, son and brother who meant the world to them.

The Bruce Lowe Memorial Scholarship is offered to students in Poole College of Management who demonstrate high academic merit and financial need. Recipients are graduates of a North Carolina public high school who reside in a rural county. The family also asked that students have a passion for service and for helping in their own communities.

“He’d be enormously proud of this scholarship,” Ken said. “It’s fulfilling what my brother would have most wanted: living a good life in addition to being educated – being well-rounded and grounded.”

Wayne and Barbara weren’t able to go to college themselves, but raising Bruce and Ken on their Western North Carolina tobacco farm, there never was a doubt that higher education was in their sons’ future.

“Education was very important in our family,” Ken said. “It’s not lost on us that higher education is a gift – an opportunity for us that made mom and dad really proud.”

The Lowe family established the Bruce Lowe Memorial Scholarship as a way to help provide that same opportunity to future generations.

A tight-knit family honors their loved one

Bruce and Ken were close. Even though they were five years apart in age, Bruce being the youngest, they shared the same birthday. The family made it a point to celebrate their birthdays together. Because Bruce attended NC State, and Ken went to UNC-Chapel Hill, the cake often reflected their respective college loyalties with red, white and black icing on one side and Carolina blue on the other.

“He loved, loved NC State,” Ken said. “We had a very friendly rivalry.”

Bruce joined Pi Kappa Alpha, where he formed some of the lifelong friendships that Teresa and Ken say he held so dear. After graduation, he was an avid supporter of Wolfpack football and basketball and of the Wolfpack Club.

Though family and successful careers took the brothers different places over the years, Ken says Bruce remained his best friend. The family had spent time at the beach together not long before Bruce’s death.

Bruce had a successful career in sales with the 3M company, while Ken made a name for himself as the founder of HGTV (Home & Garden Television) and CEO of the network’s parent company, Scripps Networks Interactive.

Bruce’s role in sales was the perfect fit for a man everyone described as a “people person.” Words like funny, kind, and compassionate are used to describe him. Teresa said he was that and a whole lot more.

He loved getting to know people and was a devoted family man. At the same time, he was fun-loving and didn’t take life too seriously, she said.

“Everyone knew him,” Teresa said. “He’d get ‘hellos’ everywhere he went.”

Bruce and Teresa had the kind of marriage that many aspire to. They met when Teresa was attending a conference and Bruce saw her from across the room, walking away from his friends to come find her. He actually lost her in the crowd, but found her later that evening and from then on, Teresa said, the two were inseparable.

Bruce Lowe and wife, Teresa, were married for 14 years

“We loved each other dearly,” she said. “All my friends were impressed with how much he did for me.

“We were really good to one another.”

Teresa echoed Ken’s sentiments that a scholarship would make Bruce proud. She’s met many of the recipients of the scholarship and has had the opportunity to hear their stories.

“I’ve established relationships and been able to follow them through their careers,” she said. “It’s been rewarding to watch the progression of these young people and how their lives have changed because of their education.”

Meeting them has given Teresa an opportunity to tell them a little about Bruce and the significance he placed on a good education.

“These kids know that Bruce Lowe is a real person and that he valued education,” she said. “He has become somewhat a part of their lives.”

The impact of scholarship

And those students do, in fact, feel Bruce Lowe’s impact as they pursue their degrees today.

August Jarrell, a sophomore pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in economics, is one recipient of the Bruce Lowe Memorial Scholarship. He selected NC State based on its affordability, combined with what Poole College’s economics department could offer him in terms of education and future career opportunities. At the same time, Jarrell was worried about graduating in debt.

“I was quite concerned as I did not want to leave with thousands in debt, as many do,” he said. “The Lowe scholarship has given me more financial freedom and ability to enjoy my time at State.”

Josue Nunez, a sophomore pursuing a Bachelor of Science in business administration, is another recipient of the Bruce Lowe Scholarship. He was a recent transplant to North Carolina from Florida when he began applying to college and said his high school advisors played a big role in swaying him toward NC State.

“At first I was unsure whether to go to community college or to a university because of finances,” he said. “When I applied to NC State and reviewed the aid offered to me and scholarships, it really helped me decide to attend this school knowing I wouldn’t be in debt with the financial aid I would receive.”

The Bruce Lowe scholarship has helped with expenses and impacted his ability to attend NC State, Nunez said.

“NC State does an amazing job of recognizing their students that are doing well academically by offering them financial aid, as well as a great amount of scholarships for school,” he said. “Without people such as the Lowe family, college would not be the same for the majority of these students.”

Skylar Rummage, a sophomore pursuing a BS in business administration, received the Bruce Lowe Memorial Scholarship as well. She fell in love with NC State the first time she visited campus, but was worried about the cost.

“Finances were a major concern for me in attending college,” Rummage said. “Receiving the Lowe scholarship greatly impacted my ability to attend NC State.

“If I had not received this scholarship, I am not sure how I would have paid for my education.”

Rummage noted how important the Bruce Lowe Memorial Scholarship and other scholarships on campus are to families like hers.

“Without scholarships, many students including myself would not have the opportunity to receive higher education,” she said. “Education is one of the most important tools you can have and I am grateful that the Lowe family has helped me to achieve that.”