OBITUARY: Death of expert chest doctor

Dr Roger C Lowry, chest physician
Dr Roger C Lowry, chest physician
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Roger Lowry was one of the leading chest physicians in Northern Ireland.

Prior to his appointment, respiratory medicine consisted mainly of taking care of patients with tuberculosis.

He was born in Belfast and had early memories of the war years in the 1940s. He recalled that it was raining outside when he heard war announced on the radio while at home in east Belfast in 1939.

Recently he told the story of how he had been driven through north Belfast on the morning after the Easter blitz of 1941, and how amid the smouldering damage to that part of the city, the animals had escaped from Bellevue Zoo.

After that the family evacuated to Killyleagh, Co Down where he spent the rest of his childhood.

Roger attended Campbell College before reading Economics at Queen’s University. At that time he became President of the Student’s Union.

Subsequently he returned to Queen’s to study medicine, alongside his brother Sidney. With their eldest sibling John, a surgeon, the Lowry brothers became well-known in medical circles.

Roger Lowry followed QUB with post-graduate studies in London and the USA.

He became chairman of the Chest, Heart and Stroke Association. For his charitable and other work he was awarded the OBE.

Roger was a keen sportsman and excelled at tennis, squash and cricket. He was a member of both the Royal Co Down and Royal Belfast Golf Clubs and played golf off a low single figure handicap.

Intrepid from an early age, a photograph of him appeared in The Down Recorder, in schoolboy cap and short pants astride his pony, at the head of the Co Down Staghounds, alongside the Master of Hounds, Chester Nugent.

In the late 1950s, following student jobs in the US, he and his brother Sidney hitch-hiked down to Key West and flew to Cuba. It was shortly before Fidel Castro overthrew President Batista. The brothers were briefly detained at the airport.

Roger Lowry was a gregarious man with many gifts and friends and a wicked sense of humour. Over the last 40 years he was a generous host to visitors from around the world at his home Milecross in Newtownards.

He suffered a long illness with Parkinson’s disease without complaint and managed to play golf for a decade after his diagnosis.

He died on Thursday, aged 80 years, and is survived by his wife Joan, their five children and 11 grandchildren.

The funeral service will be on Tuesday afternoon at Knock Methodist Church.