Kem was born on July 19, 1942, in Topeka, Kansas, the son of Gordon K. and Margaret (Huffman) Lowry. He grew up in Valley Falls, Kansas, and graduated with honors from Washburn University in 1964, where he was a member of Phi Delta Theta fraternity. He earned an M.A. in International Relations at George Washington University and served for two years in Sarawak, East Malaysia as a Peace Corps volunteer and a year as a Peace Corps staff member. Kem's time in the Peace Corps was formative in creating lifelong friendships, and it also embodied the core of his life's work: reflective and ever evolving commitment to teaching and being an effective communicator to any audience, and passionate service to his respective communities. He subsequently began his career at the University of Hawaii, earning his PhD in Political Science in 1976 and joining the Department of Urban and Regional Planning, eventually becoming Chair of the Department, Professor Emeritus, and Director of the Program on Conflict Resolution. He served the local community with distinction as a board member of the Center of Alternative Dispute Resolution of the Hawaii State Judiciary and a member of the Advisory Council of the Queen Liliuokalani Children's Center. He was a recipient of the Robert W. Clopton award for distinguished community service and Hung Wo and Elizabeth Lau Ching Foundation Award for Faculty Service to the Community. He also served as a visiting professor at the University of North Carolina and as a Marine Policy Fellow at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute. Kem was a popular and inspirational teacher and mentor. These relationships extended far beyond the classroom as previous students would often come to rely on his counsel long after their time at the department.
Both before and after retirement, Kem's interests and activities extended far beyond the classroom grounded in actualizing positive change, empowering resource manager and trainees, and facilitation that truly supported meaningful process for their respective constituents. Kem served as a consultant to the U.N. Development Planning agency, the Asia Foundation, the U.S. Agency for International Development, China-UNICEF, the U.S. Congress Office of Technology Assessment, and several state agencies in Hawaii. He worked as a trainer and consultant in Indonesia, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, China, the Philippines, and Thailand. He served as part of a team of facilitators working with the Hawaii Fresh Water Initiative, a foundation-sponsored task force of water managers and experts focusing on ways to ensure adequate future water supplies for Hawaii. Most recently he was a member of Northwestern Hawaiian Island Coral Reef Ecosystem Reserve Advisory Council. National Marine Sanctuary Foundation recognized him as volunteer of the year for his service as a Marine Advisory Council Member.
Kem married Junko Maeda on March 31, 1971, in Tokyo, Japan. She survives. Also surviving is son, Cameron Lowry, daughter-in-law, Tori and granddaughter, Aya Lowry, all of Honolulu; sisters Susan Lowry and Lynne Lowry; and brothers Jim Lowry and Stuart Lowry.
Kem's body was donated to the UH Medical School Willed Body Program. Private family services will be scheduled at a later date and his remains will be scattered in the Pacific Ocean and the mountains of Hawaii he loved so dearly.
Memorials may be made to the University of Hawaii Foundation for the Dr. Kem Lowry Scholarship Endowment, P.O. Box 11270, Honolulu, Hawaii 96828-0270.
Our deepest condolences to the family and friends of the deceased