Cleo Droke Lowrey of Leitchfield, KY, age 89, passed away Monday, March 31, 2014 in Louisville, KY. She was the wife of Walter B. Larry Lowrey. She was a member of the First Baptist Church and also taught Sunday School and Bible School. She was also a member of The Historical Society, the Woman’s Club and the VFW. She married Larry Lowrey in her hometown, who was stationed at Cannon Air Force Base in Clovis, New Mexico, a B-29 Base in World War II. Her parents Judge and Mrs. John Wesley Droke preceded her in death as did her husband, her brother Cleon Droke, and her two sisters Cleta Ewers and Johnnie Smith.
Mrs. Lowrey was the founder of the Breckenridge-Grayson Programs, Inc., which was a non-profit agency for Parent Child Center & Head Start. It was incorporated in 1967, the first in the United States for Head Start. She loved the families, children and staff at the center for 31 years. She also taught in the Grayson County School system, even at a one room school.
She and her secretary wrote an invitation to Secretary Casper Weinberger in Washington, D.C., who was with the new Secretary of Health Education and Welfare to visit their center. The secretary sent young aid-de-camp Colin Powell to Leitchfield to investigate to see if he should visit the center. Colin Powell visited for over a day and said Sec. Weinberger would love this visit. He came, along with the Secret Service, Press and Kentucky State Police. The Secretary was very impressed and gave thanks to the parents, children and staff who explained what they do in a Head Start - Parent Child Center program. “It is wonderful,” he said, and “what a great group of people.” A small rural city was grateful that a President’s Cabinet Member came to Leitchfield which was very unusual. Sec. Weinberger has now retired and Secretary of the United States Colin Powell has also. Their visits were very appreciated. She was very proud of the grant she received to remodel the old Leitchfield High School Building into a center for Head Start and P.C.C.
She has been honored by invitation to the White House twice, once to the East Room for the twenty year birthday of Head Start reception, and once in the Rose Garden for the Statue of Liberty reconstruction opening. She also testified for Congress on Head Start and Migrant Program and the testimony is printed in the Congressional Record. It happened to be on the day former President Nixon resigned. She was able to hear the resignation at the Congressional Chambers.
She was the first director to be elected “Director of the Year of Kentucky”, which qualified her for the Region IV Director of the Year encompassing eight states, which she also won.
In 1964 Mrs. Lowrey was licensed and registered as a Stock Broker with the New York Stock Exchange after passing the exam with 90 of 100 questions correct. She was one of very few females to do so in Kentucky.
She taught Baton Twirling before Leitchfield had a band and marched in all the parades with a tape recorder playing music for her students to march to. She also is the Mother of the “Miss Grayson County Fair” contest.
She is the past president of a family-owned business Grayson County Supply Company, Inc. Her son is the president of the business now which was 100 years old in April 2006. It was founded by his grandfather in 1906 and is still in the Lowrey name.
She leaves two wonderful children; a daughter, Dr. Laura Clark (Stan) of Pewee Valley, KY, a son, Bart Lowrey (Alethea) of Leitchfield, KY, five grandchildren Kal, Kari and Kerby Clark, and Landon and Lillian Lowrey, a sister Wanda Robinson (Jimmy Joe) of Lubbock, TX, a sister-in-law Prof. Nell Davis Gardner (Dr. Jess) of Lexington, KY, eight nieces and nephews in New Mexico, Texas and Oklahoma, and 12 nieces and nephews in Kentucky, California and Arizona.
Funeral services will be held at 2:00 p.m. Sunday, (April 6, 2014) at the Dermitt Funeral Home in Leitchfield. Bro. Doug King will be officiating. Burial will be in the family plot at Fairview Cemetery.
Visitation will be at the Dermitt Funeral Home from 2:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. on Saturday and from 9:00 a.m. Sunday until time of services.