Top Detective: Gerald Lowry, former Santa Barbara police chief, died at his home Wednesday night of lung cancer. He was 83.
Lowry, a veteran officer, pondered retirement in 1983 but instead was promoted to the top job after the chief who’d been hired from outside the department was fired. Becoming chief was the last thing on his mind, he had said.
Lowry was a detective who worked about every job in the department and was highly respected and liked. He steadied the department and left it in good shape when he retired in 1987.
Lowry, a Santa Barbara High graduate, signed on to the force in 1956 after two Navy shifts and going to work with the post office. He met a few local officers and, in a June interview, said he thought that police work sounded more interesting than sorting mail. The department was short-handed and low-paid when Lowry arrived, and he led a campaign to raise the pay.
In the 1980s, he collected enough City Council votes for a major renovation of the 1959 police station on Figueroa Street, but couldn’t get the city administrator’s backing, Lowry said. Since then there’s been a limited remodeling, and an extensive renovation is being studied by city officials.
“He was the best damn detective I ever came across in my 30 years of police work,” retired officer Don Williams told me. Well-liked officers do not always win respect when they rise in ranks, but Lowry did, according to fellow officers. “I couldn’t ask for more in a police chief,” Williams said.
He is survived by his wife Geneva, whom he married after they met as officers in 1964. Memorial services will be announced later.