Howard County

Admiral Frank J. Lowry




Vice Admiral Frank J. Lowry, one of Cresco’s famous sons, served 42 years in the Navy.

Admiral Lowry began his naval career with his appointment to the Naval Academy, Annapolis, Maryland in 1907. He was graduated in June, 1911. He first served at Mare Island in 1919, when he assumed command of the receiving ship and training station, following Atlantic patrol duty in World War I. His work between the two world wars included assignment to Guam, the Naval College at Newport, Rhode Island, duty on the battleships California and New York, at the University of California as professor of Naval science and tactics, command of the U.S.S. Hale, training work and a Washington tour in the bureau of navigation.

In 1940 he took command of the heavy cruiser, “Minneapolis” at Pearl Harbor, and the ship was the entrance to the harbor standing by to escort a convoy to Manila when the Japanese attacked. During the first year of the war, the “Minneapolis” operated in the southwest Pacific, and rescued 850 of the crew of the Lexington, which was sunk in the battle of the Coral Sea. This action resulted in the Navy Cross award for Admiral Lowry.

He also participated in the battle of Midway, the first landing at Guadalcanal, and the battle of the Eastern Solomons, where the “Minneapolis” towed the torpedoed “Saratoga” from the danger area.

He served briefly on stateside duty in 1942 and was then named commander of the Morocean Sea frontier, with headquarters at Casablanca. He then took command of the landing craft and bases at Salerno, Italy, and in November, 1943, became commander of the eighth Amphibian force.

Under his command the combined United States and British naval forces planned and assaulted the beaches at Anzio in January, 1944. He then commanded the landing in Southern France in August, 1944, and returned to the United States to organize and amphibious group for the invasion of Japan. When the war ended, he was ordered to Germany to serve under General Patton. He was named area commander of Mare Island, October 30, 1947, succeeding Vice Admiral Mahlan D. Tisdale, the first to hold the area command position.

Admiral Lowry was awarded 21 medals, ranging from the highest Navy honor and Navy cross, to six decorations from foreign governments.

He retired from active duty as commander of the Mare Island in March, 1950.

Admiral Lowry died in March, 1955.

Source: The Times-Plain Dealer, Cresco, Iowa, (Centennial Edition), Wednesday, June 15, 1966 (photo included)

[Below see Earlier News Articles About His Life & Obituary]

CRESCO—Dr. George Kessel and daughter, Gertrude, returned Wednesday, Sept. 10, from an auto trip to Omaha, Nebr., where they had taken another daughter, Mrs. Frank J. Lowry, who had been visiting the parental Kessel home. From Omaha Mrs. Lowry proceeded on to San Francisco, Cal., from where she was to sail on Friday, Sept. 12., for Honolulu, where she will meet her husband, Capt. Frank Lowry, who is commanding a ship in the Pacific.

Source: Mason City Globe-Gazette, September 15, 1941


Cresco, Ia.—Capt. Frank Lowry of the U.S. Navy, Commander of a battleship in the Pacific waters, and Mrs. Lowry, who have been on furlough visiting Cresco relatives, each addressed a full house at the Methodist church Sunday evening.

Mrs. Lowry, who was living at Pearl Harbor at the time of the Jap attack on Dec. 7, 1941, and was an eyewitness, gave a graphic description of the raid, and her personal experiences in assisting in caring for the wounded and suffering.

Captain Lowry, who was with his ship in the southwest Pacific when news of the raid came, portrayed the experiences he sometimes encounters at sea.

Captain and Mrs. Lowry are former Cresco residents. Captain Lowry being a brother of Fred and Lellis Lowry, and Mrs. Lowry a daughter of Dr. George Kessel, all of Cresco.

Source: Waterloo Daily Courier, October 27, 1942


Capt. F. J. Lowry To Be Executive At Great Lakes
Will Ascend to Position of Commanding Officer on Dec. 1

Great Lakes, Ill. – (INS)—Capt. Frank J. Lowry, 53, of Cresco, Ia., Wednesday was presented the Navy Cross for distinguished service in the battle of the Coral Sea.

The presentation was made before 5,000 naval officers and men in conjunction with Capt. Lowry’s installation as executive officer at the U.S. Naval training station, succeeding Capt. T. Dewitt Carr.

On Dec. 1, Capt. Lowry will ascend to the position of commanding officer of the naval training station, relieving Rear Adm. John Downes, commanding officer of the Ninth Naval district, of this phase of duty. Admiral Downes will relinquish the subordinate post owing to increasing duties, it was explained.

Captain Lowry was assigned to a combat ship in the Coral Sea battle, but its identity was not disclosed.

Cresco, Ia.—(Special)—Capt. Frank J. Lowry, who has been named executive officer of the Great Lakes Naval training station, was born in Cresco, Feb. 15, 1888. He entered the U.S. naval academy in June, 1907, had duty aboard gunboats and qualified as a submarine officer before entrance of the United States into World War I.

During the war, he served on the USS Raleigh on the Nantucket patrol and on the USS Pittsburgh on the South Atlantic patrol. From 1933 and 1936 he was training officer at the naval training station at San Diego, Cal.

Captain Lowry goes to Great Lakes directly from the Pacific fleet, where he had command of a heavy cruiser.

Source: Waterloo Daily Courier, November 12, 1942


Washington, D. C.—(AP)—The Navy announced Thursday decoration of five officers by President Roosevlet for heroism in action, including Capt. Frank J. Lowry, 54, of 129 Sixth avenue, Cresco, Ia., for extraordinary heroism as commanding officer of a cruiser in the Coral Sea battle, May 7-8.

Source: Waterloo Daily Courier, December 24, 1942


Washington, D. C. –(UP)—
Rear Admiral Frank J. Lowry has been awarded the Gold Star in lieu of a second legion of merit for his
“skill and resourcefulness” which contributed to the success of the Anzio beachhead, the Navy revealed Tuesday.

Lowry, 56, is a native of Cresco, Ia., which he keeps as his official address. His wife, Mrs. Julia K. Lowry, lives in New York City.

Source: Waterloo Daily Courier, June 27, 1944

Rear Admiral, Cresco Native Son, Honored

Rome, (AP)
—Rear Admiral Frank J. Lowry, Jr., of Cresco, Iowa, has been awarded the distinguished service medal for outstanding workd as commander of a naval task force during the amphibious operations in southern France, it was announced Thursday.

Lowry was cited for “particular care and skill” in the development of plans of operations and the achievement of “brilliant success.” After the landing of assault troops in the invasion, Lowry directed unloading operations of succeeding convoys.

Source: Mason City Globe-Gazette, October 27, 1944

Admiral Lowry Given Decoration for Services at Anzio.
Awarded for Work as Task Force Commander

Washington, (U.P.)—Rear Admiral Frank J. Lowry, Jr., 56, of Cresco, Iowa, has been awarded the companion of the military division of the Order of Bath, one of Great Britain’s highest awards, the navy announced Thursday.

Given for distinguished services as task force commander at Anzio, the decoration was recommended by Admiral Sir John Cunningham, royal navy, commander in chief of the Mediterranean.

Lowry commanded U. S. naval forces at Salerno before he assumed command at Anzio.

Source:  Mason City Globe-Gazette, Friday, November 24, 1944


Admiral Frank Lowry of Cresco, Ia., a brother-in-law of Mrs. R. W. Haas, local librarian, was one of the prominent military figures who was interviewed in press and radio statements at the time of the death of Gen. George Patton.

Admiral Lowry was associated with Patton in the European and Casablanca areas; and was warm in his praise of the late general who has been the subject of so many controversies. The admiral’s wife and Mrs. Haas are sisters.

Source: Emmetsburg Reporter, December 27, 1945

Funeral Held for Vice Adm. Frank Lowry

CRESCO—Last rites were held at Napa, Calif., Tuesday for Vice Admiral Frank J. Lowry, U.S.N. retired, native of Cresco, who died Sunday at the age of 67. Burial was at Napa.

Admiral Lowry was born in Cresco Feb. 15, 1888, attended St. John’s Military Academy in Delafield, Wis., in 1905-05 and was graduated from Cresco High School in 1907. He then entered the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis, where he was graduated in 1911.

His greatest achievements were as commanding officer of the invasion forces, where he played a large part in the surprise attack by allied forces in the Italian invasion Jan. 22, 1944. Admiral Lowry commanded the sea forces that carried the invaders to the beaches and covered the landing with bombardment.

He was a member of the Cresco American Legion post.

He is survived by his wife, the former Julia Kessel of Cresco, one brother, Lellis Lowry of Cresco and one nephew, Dr. Charles Lowry, Council Bluffs.

Source: Mason City Globe-Gazette, March 30, 1955

Ashes Onto Ocean

SAN FRANCISCO –(AP)--The Crusier Bremerton, gliding out of the Golden Gate Friday, bears the ashes of Vice Adm. Frank Lowry to be scattered on the ocean. He died March 26.

Source: Council Bluffs Nonpareil, May 30, 1955

Julia Kessel Lowry Services Held

Memorial services for Julia Kessel Lowry, widow of Vice Admiral Frank J. Lowry, were held November 21 at the Bradley-Lindstrom Funeral Home. She died November 17 at the Howard County Hospital.

Julia Brainerd Kessel, daughter of Dr. George and Lila Truitt Kessel, was born June 4, 1891 in Cresco. She was a graduate of Cresco High School and Grinnell College with postgraduate studies at Bryn Mawr College, Bryn Mawr, Pa. and Simmons College, Boston, Mass. Julia taught English in the Cresco and Minneapolis High Schools before entering the merchandising field at Bloomingdale's store in New York City.

On December 27, 1916 she married Allan D. Shackleton of Philadelphia who died at Kelly Field, San Antonio, Texas, in December 1918. One son, Allan, was born to them June 9, 1919.

On December 18, 1940, in Honolulu, she married Captain Frank J. Lowry, USN, commander of the Cruiser USS Minneapolis. She experienced the bombing of Pearl Harbor and was active in Navy Relief as long as Navy wives were allowed to remain in Honolulu. At the close of her husband's service they made their home in Napa, Calif. until her husband's death in 1955. In later years she lived in Honolulu and Milwaukee before returning to Cresco. She was a member of the Episcopal Church and a charter member of the American Legion Auxiliary Unit in Cresco.

Her son, Allan Kessel Shackleton, preceded her in death by five days. Survivors are one grandson, a granddaughter, two great-grandchildren, and one sister, Gertrude Kessel Williams of Cresco.

Source: Times Plain Dealer, November 25, 1987