James David Lowell
1928 - 2020
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LOWELL, James David

92, of Tucson, was born and died at home, in quarantine. The youngest child of Arthur and Lavina Cumming Lowell, Dave was born on a ranch outside Nogales on February 28, 1928, during a polio epidemic, and he died in Tucson on May 3, 2020 (not of Covid-19). A third-generation Arizonan whose grandfather witnessed the Battle of the O.K. Corral, Dave was also a third-generation rancher and prospector. His first job, at age 7, was to identify mineralized rocks at his father's small mine. When his father allowed him to light dynamite fuses, Dave thought: "Life doesn't get any better than this!" But it did. There were many more exciting explosions to come, as well as earthquakes, helicopter emergencies, mine accidents, bat fever, kidnapping, and many, many honors and awards. After earning a B.S. in mining engineering (UA) and a M.S. in geology (Stanford), he became an exploration geologist, and during an eventful 71-year career he traveled millions of miles and worked in over 30 countries, gaining a reputation as "the geologist of the century" and "the world's best mine finder." Applying a visionary understanding of geological processes, he deduced the location of 17 major mineral desposits, beginning with the Kalamazoo orebody at San Manuel, AZ in the 1960s. He also located the largest copper deposit in Argentina, a titanium mining district in Paraguay and Brazil, a major gold mine at Pierina in Peru, and the world's largest copper mine, La Escondida, in Chile. Hours before his death he planned a trip to mineral prospects in Turkey. His work created many thousands of jobs and produced raw materials for industry, construction, cars and computers. Probably no Southern Arizonan has ever touched so many lives around the world. And Dave was also multidimensional: a crack shot, a spear fisherman, a pilot, a cartoonist, a collector and a practical joker. He loved his family, ice cream and English springer spaniels. Always loyal and generous to his family and to the UA, he supported UA science, engineering and sports programs. His autobiography, "Intrepid Explorer" (UA Press, 2014) is packed with geology and adventures. He was a rebel all his life and an irresistible force of nature: a kind of human plate tectonics. He is survived by his equally remarkable and intrepid wife of 72 years, Edith Sykes Lowell; three children, Susan (Ross Humphreys), William, and Douglas (Elizabeth); six grandchildren, Anna Finn (Edward), Mary Yanchar (Joshua), Marcella Hartman (Edwin) and Glenton, Michelle and Paloma Lowell; as well as three great-grandchildren, Leo Yanchar, Nora Finn and Declan Finn, who sums it up: "He was the best at rocks!" He was great at many things, and we will miss him greatly (Services were private). Arrangements by ADAIR FUNERAL HOMES, Avalon Chapel.

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Published in Arizona Daily Star on May 24, 2020.
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Memories & Condolences
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2 entries
June 21, 2020
Many years ago, the Lowells and the Cawleys were next door neighbors on Jefferson street in Tucson. That started a 60-year family friendship which included several memorable trips to Mexico and to our cabin in Pinetop, AZ. Dave and Edit Lowell agreed to be my godparents in the early 60s. I also worked for Dave in 71 as a map making draftsman and observed first-hand his careful attention to detail as he studied land topology. Starting in the late 70s, we would join their family reunions at the Lowell ranch.
John H. Cawley
Benson, AZ

Attached Photo:
1963 On the road to Puerto Libertad, Sonora, Mexico (left to right) Sherm Cawley, Susan Lowell, Bill Cawley , Doug Lowell (both obscured in background), John Cawley, Dave Lowell, Edith Lowell, Bill Lowell. Image snapped by Mary Cawley on Kodachrome slide film.
John H. Cawley
May 24, 2020
My sympathy to Edith and the family. David and I have mutual cousins, the Cumming family. I dated Bill Lowell, his older brother who was killed in WWII, in high school. I did not know David well, but remember being in their ranch home once. He was truly a man to be admired.
Jeanne Pafford Glasgow
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