Obituary: Don Lowder

Don Lowder
Don Lowder
Provided Photo

June 17, 1959 – August 8, 2021

Don Lowder died Sunday, August 8, 2021, two weeks after a diagnosis of colon cancer. Don Lowder, son of Virgil (deceased) and Judy Lowder, grew up in “a town that had more cows than people.” Jackson, Wyoming left an indelible mark on a man who would ski for a living.

Don was born in Wichita Falls, Texas while his father was stationed at Shepard’s Air Force Base. As a toddler, he spent time in Cocolalla, ID living with his mom and brother at his beloved grandparents ranch while Virgil completed his service in the Air Force.

In 1962, the family made their way to Jackson, Wyoming. Don’s dad worked as a cowboy, ski lift operator, fishing & hunting guide, and ranch manager in Jackson Hole during Don’s childhood. Don lived with his family at many locations around the area including the 4 Lazy F Ranch, the Poodle Ranch, in a tent up Cliff Creek, on the elk refuge up Camp Creek, in the family home in Hoback Junction and on the Walton Ranch.

Don attended school in Jackson graduating from Jackson Hole High School in 1977. He attended the University of Wyoming.

In 1978 Don began his work life as a seasonal worker; on the mountain in the winter and swinging a hammer in the summer. He started as a lift operator at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort during the winter of 1978. In 1983, he introduced himself to his future wife, Sue, by making the double chair into a triple by sitting in between Sue and her friend Mari Lehmer.

During the summer of 1978, Ernie Carlson taught Don finish carpentry while building a residence in Cora, Wyoming. Don was a quick study and continued to build his skills in Jackson with Sam Miles.

Don left his beloved Tetons in 1985 to live with Sue in Truckee, California. He began work at Squaw Valley as a lift operator, with Bailey’s Beach his most frequent assignment during his first year. Don worked as a relief operator, zone supervisor, assistant manager and manager in lift operations at Squaw Valley, now known as Palisades Tahoe. Don influenced over 7000 lift operators during his 36 years at Squaw Valley. His flawless skiing was admired by many.

He continued his summer job as a finish carpenter. Don became a master carpenter working with Tom Beebe. Together with Tom’s crew, they finished many beautiful home interiors around the Tahoe region. Don’s attention to detail made his work noteworthy.

In 1985, Don & Sue took their first bicycle tour down the Pacific coast from Seattle to Garberville. After their marriage in June 1987, they toured southwest England, Wales and Scotland by bicycle and train. In 1989, they embarked on a self-supported, nine-week cross-country bicycle tour of the United States. Together they rode from Washington, DC to Seattle, Washington, over 4500 miles.

The spring following their bicycle tour, Don’s first son, Duncan, was born in 1990, followed by his second son, William in 1993.

The next big adventure as a family occurred during the 2001-2002 school year. While on a Fulbright Teacher Exchange, the family lived near Exeter, Devon, England. Sue taught chemistry at Exeter College while Duncan and Will attended the local secondary and primary schools respectively. Don was our stay-at-home dad taking care of all of us. During that year he perfected his cooking skills. From 2001 onward, he was the chef-in-chief in our household.

Don was an avid reader of history, science fiction and fantasy. He had an amazing capacity to remember all that he read. Traveling with Don was like having your own private tour guide. When visiting the D-Day beaches in France, Don would tell his sons the details about what took place in June 1944. When in Wales, he told us about the kings who lived in the castles.

Don is greatly missed by his wife, Sue and his sons, Duncan and Will. He is survived by his mother, Judy and siblings Gene(Paula) and Lanette as well as beloved aunts, uncle, cousins, and nieces. A Celebration of Life will be held in the Spring of 2022.

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