‘At his best’

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I knew my dad, but I never got to know Steve Lowery the journalist

By Stevie Lowery

My dad taught me how to do many things during his life.
He taught me how to pick out the perfect walking stick during our hikes together, and that trail mix (with M&Ms) is a necessity during long walks.
He taught me the significance and importance of good photography. The photos he took of my twin sister and me when we were younger are priceless in my eyes.
And, while I didn’t realize it at the time, he taught me that running can be a way to escape the stresses of life, as well as stay in shape.
But, unfortunately, he didn’t teach me how to be a journalist.
He died on April 29, 2007, at the young age of 54 - not too long after I began my career at The Lebanon Enterprise.
I can’t count the number of times I’ve wished I could call him to ask for his advice on newspaper matters. So many of his colleagues tell me what an excellent reporter, editor and publisher he was, but I never truly got to know that part of my dad. I was young during the prime of his career, so I only experienced bits and pieces of his career here and there. I knew he was important when it came to the newspaper business. I knew that when we went to the Kentucky Press Association conventions with him he seemed to be very popular and busy. Meanwhile, my twin sister and I were only concerned with how much time we got to spend swimming in the hotel pool. The speeches and the seminars my dad led weren’t even on our radar. We were too young to really care.
My point is, I know a lot about my dad, but I never truly got to know the journalist Steve Lowery. And that is more than unfortunate. In a way, I feel cheated. My dad could have taught me so many things about the newspaper industry. I wish his story – his life – hadn’t ended so soon. Because, you see, I haven’t been the only one cheated. The newspaper industry as a whole has been cheated, as well. The impact he made on the industry during his lifetime was profound, and I can only imagine the waves he would be making now if he were still here. In fact, even in his absence, my father is still making headlines. My dad was recently awarded the James Madison Award, which recognizes individuals for service to the First Amendment, by the Scripps Howard First Amendment Center at the University of Kentucky. (Read related story on page A8.)
I’ve heard from many of his former colleagues within the past week and their comments have reminded me, once again, that I unfortunately missed out on learning from one of the best journalists in Kentucky, who just happened to be my dad.
“He’s probably submitting open records requests to God, the Heavenly City Council and the Board of Angelic Planning and Zoning right now,” Tim Ballard, former editor of The Kentucky Standard in Bardstown, said to me in an email last week.
I couldn’t help but smile.
During the eight years he was editor here at the Enterprise, my dad was known for being firm, steadfast and annoyingly persistent. When it came to being a watchdog for the community, he didn’t back down to anyone. No matter if it was an angry public official or a furious elderly lady that used her purse as a weapon, he stood his ground. His bark was loud and his bite was sharp. I’m confident some of those qualities were innately passed on to me. But, I still wish I could have gotten to know Steve Lowery the journalist. I know I would have learned a lot from him.
It’s like one of my dad’s colleagues said, “The newspaper business needs more people like Steve Lowery at his best.”
Unfortunately, my dad’s “best” just didn’t last long enough.