Dr. Philip S. Lowell, long-time Austin resident, died Feb. 12 from pneumonia. He was 85. He grew up in Red Wing, Minnesota and Houston, Texas. He studied Chemical Engineering at the University of Texas, graduating with a Ph.D in 1966. He co-founded Radian Corp. (now part of Aecom) in 1969.
" Phil was an absolutely brilliant chemical engineer," his friend and colleague James L. Machin said. " We paddled many miles in a canoe together, played bridge together (Phil usually won), and answered difficult scientific and engineering questions—actually, I posed the questions and Phil always figured out the answers."
He started his own consulting firm in 1977 and then returned to Radian in 1988. There he met his wife, Lisa Runner Lowell. He continued his consulting work after retiring from the company in 2004 and remained actively working on patents until the last weeks of his life.
His love of engineering took him to many countries and throughout the U.S. He worked on air pollution control solutions, and especially on the desulfurization of flue-gases from coal-fired power plants, that resulted in the reduction of pollutants and acid rain (and loved to explain the process). He went to Russia several times during the 1970s as part of an EPA environmental engineering exchange.
He loved to travel with his family. His hobbies included singing, playing the ukulele, canoeing, hunting, playing bridge and cribbage, woodworking, reciting poetry, and cooking.
Family friend Stian Oksavik said "Phil was a man of the outdoors. He loved traveling, he loved his ranch,... he loved bicycle rides with his dog. Even in his final years, when illness was robbing him of his energy, he didn't let that stop him... "But most of all, Phil was a family man. He was a brother, a husband, a father, and to me, a dear friend."
Phil was close with his brothers, Dr. George Lowell and David Lowell. Phil and Dave worked on the Alaskan railroad during the summer as college students. He and George worked in Wyoming, twice kayaked the Noatak in Alaska, and stayed very close until Phil's death.
Along with his wife and brother, he is survived by his sister Candy Stearns Trimble, daughters Alison Lowell Jannuzi (Buell Jannuzi), Piper Lowell Fordham (Andrew Fordham), son Charles Lowell (Silva Laukkanen), stepsons Logan Lowell (Heidi Miller Lowell), Stephen McNair, Patrick McNair, and grandchildren Brigg, Barnes, Tess, Maddie, Micah, Niilo, Saara, Archer, and Selma. He was previously married to Nancy jo Brighouse Gordy and Judith Ann O'Neil. He is preceded in death by his brother, David Lowell and parents Winifred and Fred Lowell.
Blood transfusions from The Blood Center of Central Texas gave Phil many years he would not have otherwise had. In lieu of flowers, please consider donating blood or making a cash donation to www.weareblood.org, or send a memorial donation to the charity of your choice.