Robert “Bobby” Lowther, LSU’s only two-sport first-team All-American in track and field and basketball, died Monday in Alexandria.
He was 91.
Lowther was inducted into the LSU Athletic Hall of Fame in 1978 and was inducted into the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame in Natchitoches in 1995.
Born Dec. 14, 1923, Lowther was a 1941 graduate of Bolton High School in Alexandria. He earned All-America honors in 1946, the same year he joined four Kentucky players on the five-man All-Southeastern Conference basketball team.
He was a member of the Helms Foundation All-America basketball team (the most prestigious All-America team of its era), averaging 14.7 points per game.
Lowther averaged 12.7 points per game the following year.
The field was his home on the track, specializing in the pole vault and javelin.
He finished third in the 1946 National AAU decathlon and was among the early favorites for the 1948 Olympic decathlon before a broken leg suffered in the 1947 SEC meet prevented him from competing in the 1948 Olympic trials.
Despite that injury, Lowther was seeded ahead of eventual Olympic decathlon champion Bob Mathias in the trials. However, Lowther had to withdraw shortly after the trials began because his leg had not healed sufficiently.
Lowther won four SEC titles in the javelin and pole vault and won in such prestigious meets as the Drake and Texas relays. He also won the 1946 National AAU triple jump title.
He went on to earn All-America honors in both the javelin and pole vault, finishing fourth in the pole vault and second in the javelin. In 1948, his SEC javelin title helped LSU claim the team outdoor championship.
Lowther credited his 6-foot-5, 185-pound frame with helping him excel in both events.
“The pole vault and javelin are usually not compatible,” Lowther once said. “My weight was important in both. I had to keep a happy medium. I needed the weight for the javelin, but I didn’t want too much weight for the pole vault.”
He received the “Best All-Around Athlete” award at LSU’s athletic banquet in 1947. Among those he beat out were future Louisiana Sports Hall of Famers Y. A. Tittle, Joe Adcock and Frank Brian.
Like many athletes of the time, Lowther’s career was interrupted by World War II as he spent two years as a pilot in the Army Air Corps, rising to the rank of lieutenant.
After college, he briefly played professional basketball with the Tri-City Blackhawks and then the Montgomery Rebels.
Lowther was a member of the All-Decade LSU Basketball Team of the 1940s selected in 2009 as part of LSU’s basketball centennial celebration.
Funeral arrangements are pending.