Another legend retires from career, but not life’s mission

Louis Lowery Jr. will retire from the Winston-Salem Recreation and Parks Department after 37 years.

Another legend retires from career, but not life’s mission
December 02
14:13 2020

The City of Winston-Salem Recreation and Parks department will have to replace another one of their greats. Louis Lowery Jr., assistant supervisor at 14th Street Recreation Center, will retire as of Dec. 1.

Lowery spent 37 years in the city’s Recreation and Parks department and felt it was time to retire from his position, but not from his mission in life, which is to help others. He spent time in several rec centers such as Piney Grove Rec Center (now Brown and Douglas), Rupert Bell, Carl Russell Sr. and 14th Street.

“You hear people talk about retirement, from sports or whatever it may be. It’s a feeling you get and you still enjoy your work, because I like working with kids and people, but then you’ve seen a transition and change over the years and with that change we have to change with the times,” said Lowery. “But then there are some things I believe don’t change; everything doesn’t have to change.

“When I came into the job, I was a hands-on kind of person, but it just seems like the kids are different now from when I started.  I just had a feeling where I felt it was time to move on, but continue to do what I do, which is positively impact peoples’ lives. I am really just shifting, but not giving up on what is my whole heart and purpose.”

Lowery will be turning 62 next year and he felt retiring now will allow him to continue working with kids while also having the opportunity to come back and spend time at the rec center when needed.

Lowery is a self-proclaimed people person, so he says he will miss most the relationships he has built with people over the years once he is gone.

“We do programs here, but I love people and I am a relational type person and those relationships I have developed over the years is what I am going to miss the most,” he said. “Those moments are priceless when you feel like you have positively impacted a young person’s life.”

Spending nearly four decades in the Recreation and Parks department, Lowery has seen several generations of kids grow up. He says one of his greatest joys is seeing someone in public that went to his rec center as a child and they tell him how much he has impacted their lives as they have matured into adulthood. He said he wanted to work with the kids who people thought were lost causes because he believes that there is good in everyone.

“I am glad I played a part, but I am sure there are other people that played a part, because my life was impacted by more than one person, so it’s not about me, I just felt like I had a part to play,” he said. “That was just my deposit and when they come back to say thank you, I really appreciate that.

“The activities we did were avenues to do what we really needed to do, which was build relationships. Some of them will talk about how we taught them to play sports, but more importantly, they will talk about how we helped them become young men, and nothing is more important than that.”

Lowery, who is an avid basketball fan and was quite the player in his day, has fond memories of the programs and basketball leagues he participated in throughout his time with the department.  

“That memory will always stay with me, the type of atmosphere and the type of games that we had down here,” he said about the memory of the intense basketball games he played in. “I will never forget that, but like they say, all good things come to an end. And sometimes you have to pass the torch.”

Lowery was a marketing major in college and never thought the Recreation and Parks department would be a lifelong career after starting as a summer employee. He says the decision involved some intense praying about what path he should pursue, and God pointed him toward the Recreation and Parks department.

“I went to college to make money, but I felt the Lord was saying it wasn’t about the money, it was about the people and the money will take care of itself,” Lowery said. “The people that I was working around, it wasn’t about money for them, it was about love for the people and the kids, so that’s what really motivated me.

“I wanted to work with kids, but when you’re in school, you are thinking about business,” he said. When it came down to it, I realized that it wasn’t about money, because what good is money if you hate to come to work every day? I wanted my life to be fulfilled and feel like I was making a difference and like I was living with purpose.”

While working with the department, Lowery gave his life to the Lord. That motivated him to be a better example for the kids in the centers. 

“God had begun cleaning me up and I felt like I could tell the kids they don’t have to do those bad things anymore,” he continued. “That’s what they really wanted to hear.”

Lowery gives a lot of credit to his father for instilling in him such great work ethic and the belief that he could compete against anyone. He used that mindset when he trained others on the court.

Lowery says he has fond memories of the many colleagues he has worked with over the years. He said he learned a lot from working with the older generation when he first started and the younger generation once he had been there for some time.

“I am really grateful to God and grateful to the people that I have learned from,” he said about his time at the department.  

For his final day on the job, Lowery said he knows his emotions will be all over the place. He had a flashback moment that touched him weeks earlier and thinks on his final day there will be even more emotion.

“Any time you have change, especially with something you have been doing a long time, it will be something different when I have to turn in those keys and walk out that door,” he said about his last day. “I feel like it’s going to be really touching and I don’t know who is going to be here that day, but regardless, I know it’s going to be a change.

“I know I am making a transition and I know I still want to be involved with helping people. So I will pray about the direction I go in and I know if I do that, I will be good, because sometimes we can’t see and we don’t know what our purpose or calling is at that time.”

With the recent retirement of long-time Recreation and Parks employees such as Art Blevins, Brian Manns and Ben Piggott, Lowery joins an elite group of men who spent much of their adult lives dedicated to helping the next generation. Lowery hopes the new crop of center supervisors continues to integrate programs that can reach the community in a positive way as they have in years past.

“My hope is that they continue to reach those people out here like how the recreation centers have done and the people who worked in there have done for me when I was going to these centers,” he said. “These people were there and they helped me by keeping me off the streets and I hope the new directors don’t lose that.”

Lowery doesn’t have any immediate plans after retirement, but does want to continue working with children. He says only God knows exactly what path he will go down, but is excited to see where his new adventure will lead him.

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Timothy Ramsey

Timothy Ramsey

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