HOISINGTON — For the volunteer activities that he organizes or participates in, Bill Lowry earned the ‘Citizen of the Year’ award from the Chamber of Commerce for the many hats he wears, both as leader and follower.
These activities include setting up and tearing down for the bloodmobile, setting up exterior Christmas lights downtown and for individuals, helping with Labor Day events including the Demo Derby and dance, organizing the USD 431 Foundation Golf Tournament which awards scholarships to Hoisington students, the Friends of the Foundation which raised funds for the artificial turf at the high school, Cardinal Apartments Board, chamber board as director and treasurer, the legislative committee, cooking hamburgers for students on Community Work Day, representing the school district for the Recreation Commission Board, and the Barton County Fair Board.
Admitting he rarely sits down, Lowry also carries the responsibility of superintendent of schools for USD 431. In addition, he is currently remodeling a house he purchased for the family. His day starts early, beginning at any time from 5:45 to 7 a.m.
He was nominated by several people for his contributions to the city.
“Volunteers are the backbone of the Hoisington Chamber of Commerce,” said Stacey Bressler, executive vice president of the chamber. “Here at the chamber we are very fortunate to have many passionate volunteers. Bill Lowry is one of those volunteers and deserves to be recognized as “Citizen of the Year.””
Raised on a farm near Almena, Lowry learned about hard work at an early age. He began manually milking cows at age 7 in addition to assisting with the farm work as he grew older.
“We always had a work ethic,” he said. Lowry was taught by his father to “do your job” along with is four brothers and sister.
He still had time to run the middle distances in track in high school, and track and cross-country at Fort Hays State University. His coach at FHSU, Alex Franics, had a large influence on Lowry’s life.
After graduating from college, he taught school at Chase for one year, and then went back to the farm to work after the death of his father.
Lowry eventually sold the farm to his nephews after it got to be too much between teaching and farm work. He was at Northern Valley for 25 years.
“It wasn’t my plan,” he said, giving credit to God.
The superintendents volunteer activities didn’t begin in the seven years he has been in Hoisington. “I always helped in Almena,” he said. He was girls’ basketball coach, principal and superintendent, volunteering for the church board and being a volunteer fire fighter.
“I’m a blue collar superintendent,” he said, despite having advanced degrees. In addition to his superintendent responsibilities, he is also head of transportation and maintenance and grounds at USD 431.
It all boils down to serving and caring about people, he said.
In conversations with Lowry, the question that frequently comes up is“What’s best for kids?” For this reason, the district funds all-day kindergarten and pre-school, as well as other activities beneficial to students.
“I believe this-you’re either getting better or you’re getting worse. A lot of people are happy with the status quo,” he said.
Lowry is married to his wife Susan and has three daughters, one son, and one granddaughter.