Lowell A. Dearinger

About the author of "An Illinois Family",
by his granddaughter Nancy P.

Lowell was a historian, and a tall, distinguished man. He drove throughout Southern Illinois researching and writing about its people and lore. I remember him making a trip to the Mennonites and he probably wrote about them. He started as a reporter for Outdoor Illinois and was eventually named Associate Editor.

In my office sits Lowell's desk chair, on which he sat in his book-lined study, typing articles on an old, manual Underwood. Along with that, I have his lectern, which held his notes as he gave talks to groups.

Lowell Alfred Dearinger was born November 3, 1897, in St. Louis, the son of Albert H. and Ida B. (Ferguson) Dearinger. They were of German and Scotch-Irish descent. A graduate of Idaho elementary schools, Lowell enrolled with LaSalle Extension University of Chicago, and Behnke-Walker Business College, Portland Oregon.

On October 31, 1925, Lowell married Olive Maree Williamson. Their two children were Mary Jo (Mrs. Jerome V. Murawski [deceased, 1983]) and Theodore Bryant who married Nancy Joan Goddard. There are five grandchildren, Ronald Steven and Jerome V. Murawski, Jr.; Nancy Diane, Carolyn Jane and Theodore Bryant Dearinger, Jr.

Lowell began his career as a farmer. Sears Roebuck and Co. in Chicago employed him as an order correspondent, and Montgomery Ward in Portland, Oregon, as a collection correspondent. On August 2, 1923, he was employed by the Keystone Steel and Wire Co. of Peoria as a sales correspondent and later as a territorial representative in southern Illinois. One of their more prominent products was Red Top Fence, which we all remember seeing across the Illinois countryside.

In Mt. Vernon, Illinois, Lowell served as president of the Mt. Vernon Park Board and as director of the Mt. Vernon Public Library. He was a member of the Southern Illinois Tourism Promotion Council, Region 9, and was president of the Southern Illinois Recreation Council. He also served as a director and president of the Jefferson County Historical Society, Mt. Vernon. He was a member of the Illinois State Historical Society and the Illinois Sesquicentennial Commission of Jefferson County.

Lowell was an elder and member of the education committee of the First Presbyterian Church, Mt. Vernon and served as a teacher of adults.

Politically, Lowell was affiliated with the Republican Party.

I think of Lowell as a Renaissance man due to his many interests and avocations. He founded and was the leader of the Keystone German Band in 1928. His instrument of choice was the fiddle. He was the landscape architect of the Mt. Vernon High School, City Park, and Courthouse. He was an active member of the Camera Club (he and grandma used to drive me nuts with their light meters...how I wish for that now). Grandma hosted teas (!) (I have some of her teacups) and young men sought his counsel.

Some of my first camping trips were with Grandma and Lowell. They loved "the hills." Giant City, Cave-in-Rock, and Crab Orchard were all a part of my growing up, thanks to them. I have their canvas tent and nesting cook set. And he wrote.

The earliest documented writing I have uncovered appeared in "The Coffee Cup," a column in The Peoria Journal circa 1928. It appears to be contributed to by a circle of prolific writers engaging in amusing, and poetic, repartee. Lowell wrote under the name of "Socrates Jr." Especially engaging are his explanation of the armlessness of "Venus de Milo" (entitled "Stenographers I Have Known") and his marriage proposal to Grandma.

Lowell died September 1982. Grandma preceded him in death, and I think he died of a broken heart as much as anything.

[ An Illinois Family, Part One ]

[ An Illinois Family, Part Two ]