March 7: Grace Gillette Okie Lowry (1950)

Grace Gillette Okie was the youngest child of William and Susan Okie. Grace’s father was an Army surgeon during the Civil War and her mother was a respected New York City newspaper columnist who wrote about horticulture and gardening. Grace was born in Elizabeth, New Jersey, outside of New York City. A childhood illness caused her to lose her hearing. The family relocated to Washington where two-year old Grace was baptized at the Church of the Epiphany. Grace became a student of Alexander Graham Bell, who had been involved in research into hearing and speech as both his mother and wife were deaf. Grace also studied at the Columbia Institution of the Deaf, Dumb and Blind, today’s Gallaudet University.

In 1913, Grace married Englishman Henry Newton Lowry, a talented photographer, world traveler and writer, who was also deaf from a childhood bout with scarlet fever.  Lowry became a naturalized U.S. citizen and the couple shared a sense of adventure and a love of both of their countries. They had one child, Robert Newton Lowry. In 1921, the family went on a 5000-mile cross-country trip on America’s new trans-continental highway system. After her husband’s death, Grace and her son drove from Washington, D.C. to Chicago for the 1933 World’s Fair. Son Robert became a successful lawyer and was involved in many outreach ministries of his Episcopal parish and diocese, carrying on the compassionate, intellectually curious and generous values of his family.

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