A Memorable Man

Starting today, and in the weeks that follow, my weekly blogs will focus on the 10 most unforgettable people that have influenced my life with the most impact. There will be no order chronologically; but the list really didn’t start until I was 16 and it is still ongoing; so the list will grow. Today's edition covers my admiration for the second person on my list.
The Summer of 2001 marked the passing of a Routt County native son, a man who many people who live in Steamboat Springs today never knew. I am referring to Lowell Whiteman, born in 1918 in Hayden, and who passed away in Scottsdale, AZ at the age of 83.
His life was packed with adventure, fortune and misfortune, love, artistry, contribution, and heroic action as a WWII Navy Lieutenant. Besides his four children, Ann, Lissa, Jim and Cameron, he left a lasting legacy in the two schools in Steamboat Springs that bear his name. What’s more important however is the far reaching effect that Lowell’s vision for education has left with the hundreds of people that have benefited from a Whiteman School education and even more significantly, for the hundreds of students in the years and decades to come.
What started as an encouragement by Portia Mansfield and Charlotte Perry to Lowell in the 1930’s to start a companion boys camp to the all girls Perry-Mansfield Camp, led Lowell to buy 80 acres of land at the end of Strawberry Park (the current site of the school) for $800 in 1939.
World War II intervened for plans to actually start the boy’s camp but after Lowell returned from his service with the Navy he established the Lowell Whiteman Ranch for Boys in 1946 and continued that until his summer Ranch faculty and others encouraged him to start the Lowell Whiteman School in 1957.
He continued running the school until 1964 when he was off on yet another adventure to South America where he remained for the next 20 years, as the Director General of The American School in Quito, Ecuador.
Before he left the USA however, he made a significant and important gesture in that he gave the buildings and the land on which the school sits today to the School’s Trustees free and clear of any encumbrances. Without that gift it is doubtful that the school would exist today.
In 1995, as we hiked up a trail across from the school to a field which overlooks the campus I asked him how much different everything looked 56 years later since he bought the property in 1939. I also asked him how he felt about the impression he had made on the hundreds of lives that have since attended the school. In typical Lowell fashion, his reply was, “Oh, there is a few more buildings now than then and I didn’t really do anything – I just gave them (the school) the land.”
A man who was as generous of spirit as he was with material things, I am proud to have known Lowell Whiteman and feel privileged that he called me his friend.