From day one, Kyle Allen Lowry was the loudest. And his voice can still be heard by those who knew him in countless stories retold from treasured memories.
Lowry, 27, of Winamac, IN, died on Feb. 3, 2016. He was born on July 20, 1988, to Kent and Deena Lowry and earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Pastoral Ministries at Olivet in 2012.
“My favorite memories are with Kyle and his friends from ONU,” Deena Lowry wrote in an e-mail. “When Kyle’s home family and school family were together, Kyle was at the top, and sometimes over the top with love and laughter for all.”
Kyle was a “prankster.” Mitch Johnson, who lived with Kyle on Chapman second floor, recalled him duct-taping an “entire bed” to a floormate’s ceiling.
“He had a flair for jokes and making them epic and theatrical,” Johnson said.
Kyle’s “theatrical” style was well-known among his friends.
“Kyle loved playing different personalities,” said chapel worship leader Joey Ramirez, a resident assistant (RA) in Chapman during Kyle’s freshman year.
Kyle would yell across the quad or across the Ludwig cafeteria if he saw a friend that he wanted to say hello to, Samantha Davey and several other ONU alumni said.
Kyle’s humor and boisterous nature permeated his relationships with friends at ONU. Kyle “lived life relationally,” Dr. Woody Webb, Vice President of Student Development, said at his funeral on Feb. 8 at Frain Mortuary in his hometown.
“Best known for being loud and friendly and connective,” Johnson said. “Crazy thing about him, one minute he would have you laughing with your stomach hurting, and the next minute he would be having a heart-to-heart with you.”
Ian Matthews, who also lived with Kyle on Chapman second, added, “Everything for Kyle was a vector for conversation.”
Kyle’s encompassing personality was what created the dynamic of Matthews’ freshman floor.
“Our vocabulary, jokes, attitude, and way of doing life – we got that from Kyle,” Matthews said.
Kyle had the ability to turn everyday social interactions into memorable “events,” said Spencer Cook, another RA in Chapman at the time.
“If you had breakfast with Kyle, it would be more than breakfast,” Cook said. “It would become something big. He would reach out to you a couple times before to show you how excited he was.”
No one was “off limits” for Kyle, Johnson said. Three weeks into their friendship, Kyle invited Johnson to go to a wedding in which Kyle was the best man. Johnson attended the bachelor party, wedding rehearsal, and the wedding itself.
“I was this scared little freshman kid,” Johnson said. “He introduced me to the whole wedding party and vouched for me … and it was a blast.”
Kyle’s friendships were evident in the outpouring of messages on his Facebook wall.
“You truly were an indescribably beautiful person that brought joy everywhere you went,” a friend wrote. “You made everyone feel like a million bucks when they were with you.”
Kyle was a person marked not only by his humor, love and friendship, but also by his compassion. His desire to be with other people was not limited by difference.
“On paper, Kyle and I didn’t really have that much in common,” another friend wrote on his wall. “Our beliefs, opinions, or taste in music never quite aligned, but that’s what made him such a tremendous human being. There were no prerequisites to receiving his love and friendship.”
One former Olivet student wrote about his experience of being Catholic and having Lowry as his Christian Formation group leader.
“As a Catholic student at Olivet, things got a little uncomfortable for me sometimes,” the student wrote. “But I always felt welcomed and encouraged in Kyle’s small group. He not only respected my personal faith, but he also encouraged me to pursue it. Though we had differing opinions about religion, I never felt closer to Christ than when I was talking with him.”
Kyle made his friends feel valued.
“I’ve struggled, like most people, with having self-worth,” Johnson said. “Kyle showed me in his little quirky ways that I was worth something. He included you and made you feel like you had something to give.”
Kyle’s optimism despite his long struggle with depression was an inspiration to many. He often wrote about mental illness on his Facebook wall. Katie McCooey, Kyle’s ex-wife, who has just been accepted into a master’s program for School and Mental Health Counseling, is “making it [her] goal in life to help as many people as [she] can to stay mentally healthy.”
McCooey wrote on his wall, “You taught me about mental illness and yet again, that people are still people despite their flaws, actions, and emotions. That has helped me so much. It’s allowed me to love my students in a new way. ALL of them, even the ones who are difficult to love because they are struggling with difficult situations in life and with myriads of different emotional disorders.”
Webb ended his comments at Kyle’s funeral with two points of which he was certain: 1) “that we have a loving, compassionate, and gracious Heavenly Father” and 2) “that Kyle is with Him.”
“The memory of his love and devotion to God will always be with me. He walked the talk with our Lord and Savior,” Deena said.
—Nathan DiCamillo, Life and Culture Editor