Nancy Lou Lowery

Nancy Lou Lowery

August 01, 1930 - February 15, 2024

Nancy Lou Lowery

August 01, 1930 - February 15, 2024


Nancy Lou Lowery

August 1, 1930 – February 15, 2024

Nancy Lowery was a mother, a grandmother, and a great grandmother. She was loved by her three grandsons, Matthew, Parker, and Ian, and her five great-grandchildren, Logan, Remi, Boone, Ray, and Jack. She was also a musician, music teacher, band and symphony volunteer booster and the South Coast Symphony Alliance president for 15 years. Nancy, and her husband Ray, were awarded the first ever Meritorious Service Award by the South Coast Symphony in honor of their achievements.

Nancy started the violin in second grade and piano in third grade taking weekly private lessons on both all the way through college. While in high school she was concertmaster of the orchestra and led a string quartet that performed weekly for pay at the Percy Jones Army Hospital in Battle Creek, Michigan. Nancy fondly remembered winning the State Championship of Michigan on violin while a senior in high school. She also played and soloed in the prestigious Battle Creek Symphony. After high school, Nancy attended Chicago Musical College, majoring in violin with a minor in piano. She also attended the University of Illinois for her general education classes.

Nancy met her husband Ray in the Battle Creek Symphony. He was in the French Horn section, and she was in the violin section. The tale goes that she went home that night and told her mother she had just met the man she was going to marry. She was right, but Ray didn’t know it yet. Both were from prestigious musical colleges: Ray from Juilliard and Nancy from Chicago Musical College. Although they eventually made their living in the business world of sales, they never completely gave up their ties to the music world. Nancy gave piano lessons for most of her life, and Ray taught French horn. She also worked at the Downey School District teaching an after school elementary music program. Part of their legacy is that many of their students are now music teachers or music professionals sharing the gift of music that Nancy or Ray shared with them.

Nancy and Ray had three children while living in Michigan and then moved to California in 1960. As a devoted mother she has raised three incredibly talented children, all of whom play several musical instruments.

Their oldest son, Mark Lowery, retired from teaching 37 years in instrumental music. Mark was highly regarded in his profession and El Camino High School dedicated the band room in his honor. He served a record sixteen consecutive years on the board of the SCSBOA (Southern California School Band and Orchestra Association) where he was awarded Honorary Lifetime Membership. Mark also is a fine bassoonist who played professionally in the San Salvador Symphony in El Salvador, and in many Southern California ensembles through the years.

Drew Lowery followed in Dad’s footsteps playing the French horn. Drew received his master’s in music performance at Cal Arts and played professionally in the Gronky Symphony in Munich, Germany, as well as a freelance performer in New York, playing Broadway shows, local symphonies, and performances at Carnegie Hall. Drew returned to California where he continued to perform and create ensembles until he passed away in August, 2023. He was celebrated in October by family and friends and the brass players that loved to perform with him.

Lisa Gray, their daughter, was South Coast Symphony’s first chair oboist. Lisa became a music teacher after college and taught elementary and middle school levels in Downey and went on to teach the elementary strings in Capistrano Unified School District at seven schools a week. Lisa received the prestigious Irene Schoepfle Award from the Orange County Department of Education in 2018 just before her retirement after 38 years of teaching.

Nancy was the perfect MOM volunteer for her three children in high school. She served as Band Booster President at Loara High School in Anaheim for six consecutive years. Lisa asked her mom to get involved again as a “Symphony Booster” by organizing a bridge group to raise money. What Lisa didn’t know then was how much Nancy and Ray would eventually do for the South Coast Symphony.

When Nancy and Ray became empty nesters they discovered the joy of foreign exchange students. They sponsored a high school boy from Brazil for a year and then became the leaders of a Japanese exchange program for six years where Nancy organized volunteers to house the college age students. She and Ray gave English slang and cultural classes and arranged tours for the Japanese students. This work earned them a wonderful trip to Japan where they were treated as VIPs and hosted by the Professors and Doctors who led the program.

As President of the South Coast Symphony Alliance for 15 years, Nancy oversaw their Front of House operations, created the Symphony Gift Shop, selecting and ordering merchandise, selecting volunteers to help during the concerts, created a greeting card business specifically to support the Symphony and organized the Refreshments Concession to service the patrons at each concert.

Nancy oversaw fundraising for the symphony and any other volunteer activities the symphony needed. She coordinated many events as follows:

“Casino Night” at the Holiday Inn was Mom’s first big event and people had a wonderful time playing blackjack, craps, and roulette where even if you lost your chips, the symphony was a winner. The food was fabulous!

“Luau under the Stars” at the fabulous Wilcox Manor in Tustin. 120 guests enjoyed authentic Hawaiian food, drinks, and entertainment, including a fire dancer and a coconut-cracking contest. It was a roaring success.

“October Fest” complete with a German Oom-pah Band, dancing, prizes, raffles and of course a lot of BEER.

“Casino Royale” was a classy night of gambling for fun with swanky jazz and docent tours of the historical Wilcox Manor.

“The Old West Casino” was held at the El Niguel Country Club and guests wore their best western duds and danced and gambled in western style.

Nancy loved people to have fun. Her next venture was to put together the following fundraisers “Cruise with the Symphony.” She planned special parties for the symphony patrons in their own rooms across the halls from each other, and formal dinners where they were conveniently seated together.

“Mexican Rivera” was her first cruise aboard the beautiful ship “Elation.”

“Inland passage of Alaska” was her next cruise aboard the “Dawn Princess.”

Nancy was always researching new ways to make money. Her next ventures were Fashion Shows. Again, there was great food! The kids that provided entertainment were students of Nancy’s. Students and their parents were always on the scene as volunteers and performers.

“SCS Fashion Show” featuring the ladies from the symphony along with our female supporters modeling the clothes (including our maestro’s wife, Melody). The next year

“SCS Fashion Show” included the guys in the modeling fun (including the maestro himself)!

Remember how Nancy was in sales? She was always providing people she met with the opportunity to come hear the wonderful “Unstuffy” South Coast Symphony and join in the fun of helping her raise money to support it.

Learning that groups were making money selling dinner parties that were hosted, and donated by their patrons, Nancy suggested the following:

“Dinner with the Maestro”
“BBQ at the Ranch” with antique cars, horses, lawn bowling, and horseshoes.

“Luau Feast” hosted by daughter, Lisa, at her home where maestro Barry Silverman and flutist Ben Barth danced the hula with the Polynesian girls.

Nancy had that special “Spirit of Volunteerism” that made the South Coast Symphony a success. She managed to spread that “Spirit” to get people to volunteer for activities such as :

“Home tours of Laguna Woods” and then the

“Holiday Decorated Home personal Tours”

Nancy had an endless energy that she shared unselfishly. She loved to entertain and courageously hosted dinners, large parties, weddings and events. Her loving heart, her courage, and spirit of volunteerism have earned Nancy a lasting legacy of a life well lived!

In lieu of flowers please donate to the

South Coast Symphony

Memorial Service

  • Date & Time: March 21, 2024 (10:00 AM - 11:00 AM)
  • Venue: O'Connor Mortuary Chapel
  • Location: 25301 Alicia Parkway Laguna Hills, CA 92653 - (Get Directions)
  • Phone Number: (949) 581-4300


  • Date & Time: March 21, 2024 (11:00 AM - 12:00 PM)
  • Venue: O'Connor Mortuary
  • Location: 25301 Alicia Parkway Laguna Hills, CA 92653 - (Get Directions)
  • Phone Number: (949) 581-4300

South Coast Symphony

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