When I arrived for an interview at the Western Illinois Museum in August of 2008, Lowell Lueck, the chair of the board at that time, gave me a tour of the museum. He started by showing me the east side of the building where the collection is stored. The area was a former garage and still retained much of the rough quality you’d find in a garage. It was full of “stuff.” There were lots of boxes in rows, rusty farm equipment, and who knew what else.
Ten years later I think back to that first meeting and how Lowell drew me into his vision for our community’s local history museum. My instinct was that this would take too much effort. Lowell, like most innovators, saw the potential in that old garage and room full of stuff. But it was not until years later that I realized he saw the potential in people, like me, first. His gift was to bring us along, and to take the next step, together.
As we worked together it became clear that he was a “lead by example” kinda guy; never seeking recognition, or telling anyone to do something, or making conditions for his financial contributions. Just giving: his time, his good humor, his knowledge and skills, his guidance, and most importantly, his friendship.
Ten years later I find myself grateful for that meeting with Lowell Lueck and for our friendship. As we celebrate his life as one well-lived, it is his example that I think is the gift he left for us. Ten years ago I would have described the museum as a place with potential. Lowell has taught me that the museum is a place to realize each of our potentials to create something together. Thank you, my friend.
Here are a few of our favorite photographs of Lowell.