Biography of Dr. John H. Lowman
Cuyahoga County, OH Biographies

JOHN HENRY LOWMAN, M. D. The patent of nobility that securely rested its claims in the personality of the late Dr. John H. Lowman, of Cleveland, was one of deep intrinsic worth of character, of transcendant professional ability, of abiding human sympathy translated into active service, and of effective work in advancing the standards of his profession, both as a practitioner and educator. Within the scope of a memoir as brief as this must needs be it is impossible to give manifold details concerning the career of this distinguished Ohio citizen, nor is such indulgence necessary. The fullest measure of lesson and incentive offered by the story of his life and labors comes to the one who is able to "read between the lines." He who serves is loyal, and in noble service to humanity Doctor Lowman justified himself in the ultimate degree. He was a man of broad intellectual ken, of high ideals, and of fine appreciation of all that makes for true value in the scheme of human thought and action.

Dr. John Henry Lowman was born in Cleveland, Ohio, October 6, 1849, and his death occurred in New York City January 23, 1919. He was a son of Jacob and Minerva (Peet) Lowman, and was a representative of sterling pioneer families of the Ohio metropolis. The schools of his native city afforded Doctor Lowman his earlier education, and he attended school also at Meadville, Pennsylvania, prior to matriculating in Wesleyan University at Middletown, Connecticut. In this institution he was graduated as a member of the class of 1871, with the degree of Bachelor of Arts, and in 1874 his alma mater conferred upon him the honorary degree of Master of Arts. He also graduated from Columbia University, receiving his Doctor of Medicine degree: In the autumn of 1871 he began the study of medicine under the able preceptorship of Dr. G. C. Weber, who was at that time one of the most distinguished physicians and surgeons in the City of Cleveland. In 1873 he was graduated from the medical department of Wooster University, and after thus receiving his degree of Doctor of Medicine he further fortified himself through the valuable clinical experience that he gained through his service as an interne in the Charity and Maternity hospitals of Cleveland. In 1874 Doctor Lowman assumed a position as house physician in the Charity Hospital in New York City, this being now known as the City Hospital. He soon became associated with Dr. Clinton Wagner, of the Metropolitan Throat Hospital, and in this connection he gained authoritative knowledge of diseases of the throat and chest. It was through his efforts that a special ward was set aside in the Charity Hospital for the special care of laryngeal cases. After his work in the New York Charity Hospital was completed Doctor Lowman returned to Cleveland and established himself in the practice of his profession. In 1876 he was appointed professor of materia medica and therapeutics in the medical school of Wooster University, and in this position he continued his effective service until 1881, and he continued his educational service after this department was consolidated with the Cleveland Medical College, which later became the medical department of Western Reserve University. From 1881 to 1899 he was professor of materia medica, during the ensuing five years he was professor of medicine, and he was then made professor of internal medicine and clinical medicine and ethics, in which position he continued his loyal and distinguished service until the close of his life. His work as an educator in this connection covered a period of forty two years, and his was large and benignant influence in the upbuilding of the splendid medical school of Western Reserve University, and in a more generic sense he made large contribution to the advancement of medical science. It is worthy of note that in 1889 he obtained the funds necessary to provide microscopes for the laboratory of the histological department of the medical school.

As pertinent to another field in which Doctor Lowman rendered a great service of enduring value, the following quotations are consistently incorporated in this memoir :

"Notwithstanding the demands of a very large and important practice Doctor Lowman succeeded in keeping thoroughly abreast of the times in the medical world, and also succeeded in originating and developing various socio-medical institutions and associations of far reaching value. In 1902 he visited the most prominent tuberculosis sanatoriums and institutions in France and Germany, and in 1905 he attended the International Congress on Tuberculosis held in Paris. Upon his return he conceived and founded the Anti Tuberculosis League of Cleveland, an association that later became responsible for the development of the Municipal Department of Tuberculosis and also the Warrensville Sanatorium. * * * The Anti Tuberculosis League of Ohio counted him as one of its founders, and he became its first president. In 1913 he was made president of the National Society for the Study and Prevention of Tuberculosis. * * *

"Ever unsparing of himself, the strain of unremitting devotion to his professional and philanthropic work began to tell upon Doctor Lowman, and for several years his health had been distinctly impaired, although his activities were not permitted to lapse. His reputation as an authority upon the subject of tuberculosis had become international, and when the necessity arose for sending a commission to study the conditions of that disease in Italy, Doctor Lowman was appointed its medical director. Although physically unfit for the hardships and uncertainties of such a task, he at once accepted, and as a major of the American Red Cross, started with the other members of the commission to Europe. He arrived in Rome at the height of the epidemic of influenza, and was shortly afterward taken ill with that disease. Although not sufficiently recovered, as events proved, he was urged by his superior officers of the Red Cross to return home as soon as possible. Relapsing on the voyage, he reached New York City in a serious condition of illness, and two days later, on January 23, 1919, he passed away."

At the time of the death of Doctor Lowman the United States secretary of war wrote as following concerning the service which he had rendered in the connection noted in the preceding paragraphs : "I write to express my personal sympathy and my official gratitude for the unselfish service which cost Doctor Lowman his life. Throughout my life in Cleveland Doctor Lowman was one of the greatest influences for better and wiser things in public affairs, and when the world's great test came he could not help sacrificing himself to minister to the stricken and suffering. Surely he died a soldier's death, after living in the best sense of the word a soldier's life."

His native city and all that concerned it ever signified much in the thought and loyal interest of Doctor Lowman, and here his noble humanitarian spirit reached its apothesis. Of his manifold activities along benevolent and philanthropic lines we need not speak in detail. Here, as in all other relations of life, he gave of his best, fully and heartily, and with deep appreciation of personal stewardship. It is to be noted that he was an inspiring force in the movement that resulted in the establishing of the Babies' Dispensary and Hospital in Cleveland, and he was a member of its executive committee at the time of his death. He was chairman of the staff of Lakeside Hospital, and was one of the founders of the Cleveland Medical Library. At his suggestion was organized the Cleveland Museum of Art, and from the beginning of its history to the close of his life he was an honored and influential member of the board of trustees.

From the Journal of the Outdoor Life for May, 1919, is taken the following appreciative estimate: "Among medical leaders in the antituberculosis cause Dr. John H. Lowman was of unusual distinction, by reason of his gifts of mind and heart. By reading and travel he was well informed in all that pertained to medicine, and especially to tuberculosis. His intelligence was penetrating, and was aided by wide interests and sympathies. His desire for human welfare, and his understanding and culture, would have made him eminent in any field as a teacher, publicist and organizer. Fortunate was it, indeed, that medicine had the benefit of his life work, and tuberculosis workers the genius of his leadership."

It is well that in this memoir be perpetuated the following excerpt from a memorial written at the time of the death of Doctor Lowman: "Doctor Lowman's life was characterized by unceasing industry, a strong and dominating purpose to secure for himself and for his fellowmen the things that were essentially worth having and worth fighting to obtain. He had little patience for slothfulness of any kind, or for the kind of individualism that keeps a man from sharing the best that is in him and the best that he can do. His tastes were liberal, and that which was beautiful in art, music and literature made for him the strongest appeal. Even though he stood for every method and process which science has won for the care and prevention of bodily disease, nevertheless human life was always for him something which transcended its bodily tenement and which fed itself at sources not always easily discernible. Never at any time was a man, in his estimation, a mere manikin, but rather a creature set in the midst of an infinitely varied medium of life. Thus the joys, the sorrows, the hidden anxieties, the pinch and strain of money worries, the disappointment of frustrated energy, with all their implications and their bearing upon physical health, came within the consideration of his liberal and richly informed mind; and therefore, as well as because of his scientific attitude, he was a sound diagnostician."

Doctor Lowman was reared in and ever held to the faith of the Methodist Episcopal Church, and this faith found benignant expression in his daily life. After his death a most impressive memorial service was held in the Amasa Stone Memorial Chapel of Western Reserve University, and there tributes of love and honor were paid to the man who had lived righteously and wrought nobly during the entire course of an active and useful life. It has consistently been stated that his was a human life that offered convincing evidence of the divine.

There can be no wish to lift that gracious veil that guarded the ideal home life of Doctor Lowman, but it may be said that every relation of the home was gracious and idyllic. Mrs. Lowman, who survives him, shared with him in cultural and humanitarian interests and service, and is one of the true gentlewomen whose influence in Cleveland has been most gracious and benignant. In the year 1891 was solemnized the marriage of Doctor Lowman and Miss Isabel Wetmore. Doctor Lowman is survived also by three sons, each of whom entered the nation's service with utmost loyalty and promptitude when the United States became involved in the World war. John W., the eldest son, became flight commander of the American Aviation Detachment in Italy, and he, like his brothers, still resides in his native City of Cleveland. He married Miss Edith Marie Lehman, of Wooster, Ohio, and they have a little daughter, Elizabeth. Henry; the second son, became an officer in the American Aviation Corps, and Shepard was in service in the United States Marine Training Camp at Paris, South Carolina. Shepard Lowman married Miss Josephine (Frisbie) Cherry, of Bowling Green, Kentucky.

Mrs. Lowman takes lively interest in the history of Cleveland and the State of Ohio, and in this connection it is interesting to record that she has in her beautiful home a complete file of the city directories of Cleveland, as well as books pertaining to the original Shaker settlement in Cleveland.

A History of Cuyahoga County
and the City of Cleveland
By: William R. Coates
The American Historical Society
Chicago and New York, 1924

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