Saturday, June 9, 2007

Dr. Jean Lowry - Pioneer

Jean Lowry, a founder of the Wytheville Grotto, in Nebo Cave. Photo by Wayne Whitt.

In the comments section of an earlier post, Scott H suggested a link to a web site that references Dr. Jean Lowry's participation in the "Wytheville Grotto", a spelunking club that operated in spectacular caving country of western Virginia from 1950-1958. The article is from a tape recorded interview Jean gave in which she talked about her introduction to spelunking, adventures and mishaps in Virginia caves, and the founding of the Wytheville Grotto "organization".

Jean pioneered cave exploration and mapping in the Wytheville, VA, area prior to her teaching career - first in the Geography Department, and later as the first faculty member in the newly formed Geology Department - at East Carolina University.

In the mid-1900's, women were not supposed to study geology at Yale; women were not supposed to crawl through the mud and muck of caves by night, and then show up for work the following morning at the Virginia Geological Survey.

But Jean did. The word "conventional" was never part of her vocabulary.

In case you missed it, or in case you would like to read it again, S. Snyder wrote a very nice piece on Dr. Jean Lowry in the 2004 Alumni Newsletter, following her death on November 16, 2003. You can find Scott's tribute here, if you scroll down to the third article.

It is impossible for a group of ECU geology alums from the late '60s to early '80s to get together and not share laughs and smiles over Jean Lowry stories and tales. People such as Jean inspire us and enrich our lives.

That we all might be so lucky as to be remembered so fondly.

(Thanks to J. Watson for the link to the Wytheville Grotto article!!)

1 comment:

scott h said...

Where are the old timers on this one? Do you guys not remember wandering around for hours underground? Wiffle was a great place to camp, map, and spend quality campfire time with Jean. The trip to the cave topped off the evening. Any stories out there other than mine? Remember the dead dog at the bottom of the entrance? Crawling through water? Looking for the change? We were young and dumb, but we found our way out. What say you?