Northrop, Lowell E.
Lowell Edwin Northrop Jr., a resident of Squaw Valley, Tahoe City and Alpine Meadows since 1958, peacefully passed away April 22 at the age of 89. A third-generation Californian, Lowell was born Jan. 28, 1918, in Pasadena to Lowell E. Northrop Sr. and Dawn E. Northrop.
Northrop graduated from John Muir High School in Pasadena. After graduation he attended the University of Hawaii and later became an officer on the Honolulu Police force, a telephone repairman for the Department of the Navy, and a commercial fisherman. He was instrumental in restoring communications between the Kaneohe Marine Corps Air Station and Pearl Harbor after the attack on Pearl Harbor.
In 1948 he sailed his 42-foot fishing boat between Hawaii and Samoa. Upon his return to the mainland he became a general engineering contractor specializing in ski lift installations.
Initially a partner with his brother John E. Northrop, he installed many of the first ski lifts at ski areas throughout the western United States, including Alpine Meadows, Squaw Valley, Northstar, and Boreal Ridge. Lowell installed the original Siberia ski lift at Squaw Valley in 1958 and was manager of all eight Squaw Valley lifts before, during and after the 1960 Olympics.
In 1961, Northrop excavated the tunnel on Squaw Peak to provide year-round access to the FAA building. Other FAA VORTAC installations followed. Later he explored and developed horizontal water wells for the Corps of Engineers.
Renowned for his work ethic, Northrop worked well into his 80s.
He was a member of the Aircraft Owner and Pilot’s Association, Truckee Tahoe Plane Talkers and the Experimental Aircraft Association. He helped build the 19-01 runway at Truckee. Outside of work and family, he enjoyed hiking and sailing. He spent many of his younger years hiking the Sierra with his family.
Northrop married Barbara K. Northrop on Dec. 31, 1956, in La Canada, Calif. They settled in the Squaw Valley area in 1958 and were some of the first residents of Alpine Meadows, living in their present home since 1964. They were fortunate to celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary in December 2006.
Northrop is survived by his wife, Barbara; sister, Nancy Meyer of Truckee; and children, Lowell E. Northrop III of Pacific Grove, Jon O. Northrop of Alpine Meadows, Pat Northrop of Truckee, Karen Northrop of Homer, Alaska, and Kimberlei Northrop of Spokane, Wash. He was preceded in death by his brother, John Northrop; sister, Dawn Stead; and son, Ralph A. Northrop. Additionally, Northrop is survived by eight grandchildren, three great-grandchildren, and numerous nieces and nephews.
A celebration of his life is planned for June 16 at 2 p.m. at Truckee Tahoe Airport Gliderport.
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