Some people are just born with a career destiny. Such is the story of Sam Lowe.
With no formal education or training, he seemingly stumbled into a career in journalism. And more than 3,500 published stories and columns later, he became one of the most decorated newspaper men in the southwest.
“I always wanted to be an architect but couldn’t pass physics, so I started thinking about something else that I could do. Writing came easy for me so I followed that trail,” Lowe says.
It was so easy in fact, that he convinced his first editor to hire him right out of college without journalistic training. Eventually he became managing editor of the Jamestown Sun in North Dakota.
From there he found his way to the desert and went to work for the Scottsdale Progress.
“I thought I had died and gone to heaven, as I was both warm and rich, earning $150 a week.”
He then wrote for the Lake Havasu Herald, but admits it was no promotion. “The only good thing about that stint was when I die, I won’t have to go to Purgatory because I’ve already been there,” he says with a chuckle.
Lowe got his first big opportunity when he began writing for the Phoenix Gazette, the Valley’s long-time afternoon newspaper. There, he wrote a daily column until the paper folded in 1997. He had the ability of telling tales that made his readers laugh. And laugh they did, as he was lauded as “Humor Columnist of the Year” in 1988 by the National Society of Newspaper Columnists.
“In those days you could do almost anything to create your story. Ridiculous things like calf roping, wing-walking…once I even dressed as a clown and performed in the Ringling Bros. Circus and then wrote about those experiences.”
It worked and worked well as Lowe was easily one of the more popular writers at the Gazette, and thereafter,
The Arizona Republic. He wrote from the heart and touched others in the very same place.
“We had fun and could get away with things that wouldn’t be possible today. I once wrote about the weather in a Shakespearian vein,” he remembers. “To rain or not to rain, that is the question.” Then there was “Miss Fanny Goodnews,” a fictional character that allowed Lowe to cover most anything. His whimsical reporting continued until retirement in 1999.
Since then, Lowe has become a prolific author, writing 14 books in his spare time. Most are about Arizona and New Mexico and were motivated by his natural interest in people and places. One of his more popular books, Arizona Curiosities, has been republished in three editions. Another of his personal favorites is Speaking Ill of the Dead, an account of infamous and notorious Arizona characters, “or just another way of saying Arizona bad guys.”
Lowe met his wife, Lyn, in a chance encounter while performing in the same choral group. And they have been singing one another’s praises for 31 years. “It was instant love for the both of us.”
Asked about life’s most memorable moments, he doesn’t hesitate.
“I will never, ever forget the time I got to perform in the circus. I was never the same after that and it was a magical thing being able to make people laugh.”
And that’s something Sam Lowe has been doing for a very long time.