NEW ORLEANS — The man in the chair has changed.
The hair is gray. The trademark moustache is nearly white. The body — let’s just say, it’s smaller.
But the voice that called the names of countless high school, college and even professional athletes from press boxes across the state is exactly the same. It is strong. It says, “I will fight this.” And his community wants to help him.
David Lowry, the former high school softball coach turned equipment manager at Tulane University — and frequent press box voice of many athletic programs throughout the area — is fighting for his life. He was diagnosed in July with terminal renal cell cancer. Just a few weeks later, the LaPlace home he shared with his wife, Tricia, and six children, was inundated by flood waters cause by Hurricane Isaac.
But his community is stepping up its game. Moved by the plight of the 47-year-old Lowry, friends of the lifelong River Parishes resident have organized a fund-raising event to help with expenses — including the building of a new home for the family. “An Afternoon with David Lowry,” will be held from 1 p.m. until 4 p.m. Sunday at New Orleans’ iconic Rock ’n’ Bowl. The event will feature free food, a cash bar, live music, local celebrities, a silent auction and bowling. Tickets are $150 and admit two. Students will be admitted for free.
An account also has been set up at a local bank.
Lowry was a longtime educator in St. John the Baptist Parish. He spent eight years at St. Charles Catholic High School in LaPlace, serving as athletic director for seven years and as an assistant baseball coach and the head softball coach. He led the Lady Comets to a state runner-up finish in 2005 and 2006. After leaving the school in 2006, Lowry landed at Tulane, where he became the Director of Equipment.
In between, he has been the press box voice of the Comets, the Nicholls State Colonels, the UNO Privateers, the Southeastern Lions and the Green Wave.
But in the fall of 2011, he began what he calls a “very noticeable coughing problem. Numerous tests failed to determine a cause, so he just lived with it. Then, after an offhand comment about his eating habits on the road, he began trying to lose weight. His diet was a success. But he kept losing weight, even after stopping the diet. And when he began experiencing chills at his kids’ swim meets during the summer, his wife said, “You need to get to the doctor.” Scans showed a growth on his left kidney. Less than two weeks later, he underwent surgery to remove the kidney, and all his cultures were clear. A few weeks later, however, doctors told him that the carcinoma had spread to his lungs. He is undergoing treatment.
He and his family have moved in with his former St. Charles Catholic Principal Drew Cupit and his wife, Helena. The parents of seven children, only one of which still lives at home, the Cupits were prepared to take in a crowd, Lowry said.
Meanwhile, a local homebuilding company whose owner and general manager are friends of Lowry is building the family a new 2,800-square-foot, six-bedroom raised home on the site of their old one. It should be completed in mid-June.
And the community is rallying behind him. Organizers say the response has been phenomenal, with donations of cash, services and items for the silent auction
“I expect people to be generous,” said Chris Eichhorn, one of the event organizers. “I expect them to respond because of the generosity and grace that is in our community. It is resilient. We pull together. This is just another example of that.”
And Lowry continues to have hope and hold on to his faith — leaning on his athletic background.
“It’s like there’s a score clock hanging over your head,” he said. “The only thing is, you don’t know what quarter it is or how much time is left.”
“The Lowry Family Fund” has been established. Donations can be made in person or mailed to Community Bank, 590 Belle Terre Blvd., LaPlace, LA, 70068.
Checks should be made payable to “The Lowry Family Fund.”