John Lowe

Memorial Service

11:00 am
Saturday, October 21, 2023
Koch Funeral Home
2401 S. Atherton St.
State College, Pennsylvania, United States

Obituary of John Philip Lowe

John Lowe, age 87, of State College, died on September 16, 2023. He was born on August 28, 1936, in Rochester, NY, to the late Wesley and Phyllis Lowe. On December 19, 1959, he married Nancy Meyer in Teaneck, NJ. John and Nancy met in a German class at the University of Rochester in 1955 and were married for 64 years. Together they enjoyed raising their two children, traveling the world, teaching at Penn State and rusticating in their camp on the shores of Sebec Lake, Maine. They were among founding members of a book group that has lasted for over 50 years and were longtime subscribers to the Pittsburgh Symphony.

John received a BS in chemistry from the University of Rochester in 1958, an MA in teaching from Johns Hopkins University in 1959, a PhD in physical chemistry from Northwestern University in 1964, and completed a postdoctoral fellowship at Johns Hopkins University in 1966. He was a Professor of Chemistry at Penn State University from 1966 to 2000 where he specialized in theoretical physical chemistry. A great teacher and mentor, he was the recipient of numerous teaching awards: he was known for connecting scientific ideas to concrete applications in the real world and making chemistry more tangible with live (sometimes explosive!) demonstrations. His students learned how to think, not memorize.

John's textbook, Quantum Chemistry, originally published in 1978, went into a third edition and remains in print and widely used to this day. Additionally, he authored approximately 55 publications and reviews. Sabbaticals took him to Brandeis, Berkeley, Guizhou Normal University, Cornell, Oxford, Oak Ridge Laboratory, Paris-Sud and University of South Carolina. John's students, friends and family all loved his zest for life - fine wine, smelly cheese, lyric opera, outdoor projects, "Lowe" humor, and infectious, energetic warmth as a fellow human being.

John is survived by his wife Nancy, a son Jonathan and his wife, Rachel Hulstein-Lowe, of Wellesley, MA, and daughter Jennifer and her husband, Gregory Pass, of St. Louis, MO; granddaughter Nina; grandson Dashiell; brothers Doug and Kenneth; sister Signe and her husband, Richard Colburn. His brother Charles and sister Phyllis preceded him in death.

A memorial service will be held on Saturday, October 21st at 11:00am at the Koch Funeral Home, 2401 S. Atherton St., State College, PA. A live-stream of the service will also be available.

In lieu of flowers, contributions in John's memory can be made to a charity of your choice.

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