Josiah Low III

Josiah O. Low III

1939 - 2014 WILLIAMSTOWN Josiah O. Low III, a part-time resident of Williamstown, died peacefully on June 20, 2014, surrounded by his family and with his German shepherd by his side. Joe was born to Katherine and Josiah O. Low Jr. on June 5, 1939, in Detroit, Mich. He worked his way through Williams College, graduating in 1961. At Williams, he played football and was a member of the Alpha Delta Phi fraternity where he forged many lifelong friendships. After college, Joe built a career as an investment banker, first at Merrill Lynch and then at Donaldson, Lufkin, & Jenrette where he led the corporate finance group for 15 years. On Wall Street he was known for his unbending integrity and unending interest in others. Colleagues he worked with 40 years ago cite his mentorship as critical to their own success. Many also recall that he kept a saddle in the trunk of his car. Joe left DLJ shortly after its acquisition by CSFB. He continued to serve on the board of a number of companies, including Centex Development, CoStar Group, and Rosetta Resources. He joined Catterton Partners in Greenwich as a Senior Advisor. He advised CEOs of Fortune 500 Companies and later helped friends and local business people grow their companies or find a path out of trouble. If you came in contact with Joe, you remembered him with a smile. He blew his nose with a trumpet that turned heads, and he sang along to opera and Willie Nelson, whether or not he knew the words. He entertained children with his cowboy yip and songs about cow pies. He disliked mini-golf, "a bastardization of the game," cilantro and the snapping of gum. Joe grew up working as a ranch hand at French Creek, his family's guest ranch in Wyoming's Platte River Valley. His love for the West was infectious. He introduced hundreds of friends and colleagues to Wyoming with visits to the A Bar A, a ranch down the valley from French Creek. Joe was unexpectedly friendly and sincerely interested in everyone he met. Ordering at a restaurant was always time consuming because Joe needed to learn the the name and background of the waiter -- some connection could always be found. By the time dessert came, he was often sitting at another table with people he had just met. To his five grandchildren, he was Poppa Joe. The grandfather who hid a radio under your pillow so you could listen to the Giants game at night. The patient teacher who poured a little extra root beer float in your glass to demonstrate the concept of principal and interest. He did not tolerate whining or weak handshakes. He was irreverent, generous, joyful and loving. He let you ride the ATV despite what your parents said. He paid his 6 year-old granddaughter to paint his toenails. To his three sons, he was a father who arose every morning at 5:30 a.m. to provide his children with opportunities and experiences that he never had. He encouraged his sons to pursue their passions, put together a plan, and then to "get it done." He was an investor in their dreams, their advisor, and friend. Joe loved the outdoors and gave generously to the Williamstown Rural Lands Foundation. He planted hundreds of trees and was often seen mowing the meadows surrounding his home in Williamstown. He had an extensive collection of John Deere tractors. When he ran out of space for more tractors, he gave them away to friends, because "everyone needs a tractor." He shared his passion for western music with his friends in the East by setting up concerts in Williamstown. At these events, he would often join his hero, Don Edwards, on stage for a duet, despite the cringes of his wife and children. He served as a Williams class agent for many years and was selected to lead his class's procession at their 50th reunion. He was passionate about expanding Williamstown's economy and helped to establish Destination Williamstown, a non-profit that promotes Berkshire tourism. He was the lead donor in the purchase and renovation of the Sand Springs Recreation Center, a historic aquatic center that now serves as community gathering place and swim academy in Williamstown. He set up a foundation to fund free swim lessons so that no child would ever be afraid of the water. He loved opera, American antiques, and western art. His favorite fashion statement was a young woman with a ponytail poking out of the back of a baseball cap. Joe was unbeatable in horseshoes, a devious opponent in gin rummy, and he could still outdrive his sons well into his 70s. His gave his wife old pick-up trucks for her birthday. Children he barely knew named stuffed animals after him. He was loved by so many. There is now a giant hole in our hearts that we will all try to fill with the openness and generosity that was Joe Low. Joe is survived by Penny (Ireland) his loving wife of 50 years; three sons, Tad (Alisa), Timothy (Loriann), and Jeffrey (Stacey); five grandchildren, Ryan, Julia, Aidan, Nicholas, and Eliza; his sister, Katherine, and two brothers, David and Charles, and numerous nieces and nephews. FUNERAL NOTICE: There will be a private family memorial service. Gifts in Joe's honor may be made to the Williamstown Rural Land Foundation Williamstown, MA 01267 or simply through unexpected kindness or interest in another person's life.

Published in The Berkshire Eagle on July 6, 2014