From the Graduation Magazine of Course CSCII (pilots), August, 1956
Charles (U/S) Lowthian was born in Scarborough, Ont., on May 8, 1934. Being young at the time, he doesn't remember too much of these early days. Despite all handicaps (such as RR) he managed to reach RMC and enter the elite group of Civil Engineers. He naturally followed his trade into the RCAF and turned out to be a pilot. He has managed to reach three summers without putting a single "peril" into the boneyard. He is however famous for his ability at putting aircraft u/s at the drop of a hat (any hat!) Well known too for his ability to cram any ten people into an Austin and take them up any mountain. He at last broke down and went half shares on a grounded "Bomb" this last summer.
Excerpts from a note by Mary Rose Gagne, written 20 August 98, posted 26 Aug 98
The funeral was very well attended by family, friends and many RMC - class of 1957 fellow cadets. (To list the ones I can remember or whom I spoke to: Bill Broughton, Jay Kennedy, Georges Desbarats, George Logan, Don Goodwin and his wife Sophie Ann, Earl Schaubel and Shirley, Peter Kirkham and his wife Terry, Jack Cadieux.)
There were Psalms read, prayers said, lovely choral singing (choir and solo), words of tribute by two close friends, -- "Scottish Pipe" -- and when "Amazing Grace" was played, that's when the tears came. His dear daughter Ann broke down at the end.
When Andy was at UBC we "chummed" around with 3 other couples; the Lowthians, Wigmores and Moggridges. Shirley (Ed's first wife) and Ed would have us all over for supper, my favorite being "wieners and sauerkraut". Ed and Shirley lent us their little black Volkswagon so that we could go on a "honeymoon". I remember that I drove, as Andy had yet to learn.
In January, my father began a futile struggle to breathe. By July, relying on oxygen tanks, courage and hope, my father was given a year to live. Like Dr. Grimes, medications didn't help my father much. A full lung transplant was the carrot dangled before us - our hopes repeatedly dashed by the sheer aggressiveness of the disease.
As time became the enemy, repeated offers to donate my own lung were declined by medicine as an alternative that was not considered "viable". This is a euphemism I will never understand when any man is staring down the grim reality of death. Most of the doctors, respirologists, nurses, and specialists were confused by this immunological enigma called "fibrosis". All of us were fooled by my father's strength in the face of his own mortality. He died two weeks after being admitted into hospital, bed-ridden, suffering quietly, always smiling, strength to those by his side.
No one in our family had a medical degree. It is therefore difficult for us to understand medical practices that followed a "we will try anything at this point" objective, during such a tremendously emotional ordeal. We still have so many unanswered questions.
Why do some fortunate people get transplants and others do not? Why didn't the doctors push the application for a transplant so that my father could get one in time? Why does Canada have the worst organ donor rate for developed countries (14.1 organ donors per million vs Spain's 26.8 donors per million according to the Citizen on July 5? Must each of us obtain a medical degree to be able to demand a proper level of health care in Ontario? Shall we succumb to cynicism and insinuate that it is primarily who you know in the medical establishment that is the ultimate cure?
Watching a strong, active, vibrant man suffer was the worst aspect of this horrible, ravaging disease.
I adored my daddy. A pilot, engineer, public servant, carpenter, painter, genealogist: He is always my hero, my rock of Gibraltar. He lived life to the fullest, always building things, including homes for habitat for humanity, families, relationships, confidence, devotion and love. He was always a giver, never a taker.
My father as well as Dr. Grimes, and thousands like them know the true suffering that results from an inability to breathe. It is to endure a long, painful, fully conscious slide into fear, frustration, and a knowing death. The oxygen mask gradually feels like the albatross round the mariner's neck, reminding each victim of their own impending demise. Eventually it is only large doses of morphine that allow the patient to take larger inhalations, as the diaphragm relaxes, and any semblance of normalcy is sacrificed, simply to relieve the suffering. My father never again enjoyed the big deep relaxing sighs that he once experienced without a second thought. The panic attacks ceased when he was comatose - then the "chain-stoking" began. There is no greater horror.
Like Dr. Grimes, my dad contributed his heart and soul to his professions, his community, his family, and society. He had much more love, kindness, and comfort to share with all of us. He could have lived to fulfill all his dreams....had there only been a lung.
I am grateful to Dr. Grimes who continues to bring attention to the precious nature of life, and the need for every Canadian to commit themselves to donating their organs. Donating so that someone else can live is a selfless act of love that produces no greater reward ... for there is no greater gift. The demand is high, the supply limited.
My father taught me that true generosity is always a sacrifice of some kind, with no expectation of reward. Those who loved him and respected him do likewise, sharing in his legacy. Like my daddy says: "Pass it on".
Dale Crook kindly supplied the following tribute to Ed. Posted 31 Oct 98
The following tribute was in the Habitat for Humanity NCR newsletter:
Some Sad News
One of our Habitat volunteers and Building Team member passed away on August 15, 1998. It is with great sadness that we inform you of the passing of C. Edward "Ed" Lowthian. Ed was a graduate of Royal Roads Military College; retired Royal Canadian Air Force (pilot) and Civil Engineer with the Federal Government.
Ed has been involved with every Habitat build in the National Capital Region since our affiliate began building in 1994. Ed was a true friend to many, a supporter of the good work of Habitat and a leader on the job site.
During last year's build in Nepean, Ed was commonly referred to as 'Grampa Ed' by the children of families who received Habitat homes last year in Nepean. He will surely be missed by his friends and family.
As part of Ed's final wishes, he asked that donations be sent to Habitat for Humanity in lieu of flowers.
I finally had a chance to catch up on my email - and visited your wonderful RMC site. I loved the postings about my father. I cannot tell you how much it means to me that so many people remember him. I surely am having a difficult time accepting that he is physically gone from my life. I miss him so much - he was so much a part of my life - there is a big vacumm - that rememberances like your site - help to fill. Thank you so much.
I loved the email Gentlemen (and Anne) - made me feel a part of your wonderful crew. I would love to hear your explanation of Dad's graduation write up. I knew about stuffing all those people in his car - but some of the other stuff doesn't make alot of sense to me - its the military terms that confuse me I think!
I had no idea that Habitat also printed a message in their newsletter - that was wonderful - as were Marie Rose Gagne's kind words.
The editor from the Citizen who printed my article wrote
me a note and said that Dad would be proud. I think he would be so pleased
and proud to know his best buddies in the whole world, remembered him on
this web site. In the hospital he spoke many times of how the best
time of his life was when he was flying ...and obviously playing... with
he trusted his life to. He told me that RMC really isn't the same anymore as such friendships and trust cannot be developed amongst such large numbers of students - people kinda get lost in shuffle. The class of 57 must of been small and close knit - a rarity in this day and age. In his quiet unassuming way - he told me how much all of you meant to him - his memories of your times together - always gave him strength - and great stories to tell. I love the stories.
I don't know if I would be permitted - but at the 40th reunion - I'd like to show up just to see the marching!! I went with dad at leastonce (maybe twice - as I had at one time considered going to RMC!) and always loved it!
Hope you are all doing well - thanks for keeping me posted! Fill me in on any new developments! I am even reading the retirement stuff - its rather interesting stuff!
Thank you for your e-mail and words of encouragement. It's great to know that the web site is appreciated.
I won't be able to answer all of your questions because I'm not currently at home; I'm in Tucson on an engineering accreditation visit to the University of Arizona.
I was not the author of the writeup about Ed which I lifted from our pilot's graduation magazine when we finished the basic flying course at Penhold in the Summer of '56. I think the author was Bill Albrecht but I'll check when I get home. My contribution to the magazine was to take all of the pictures.
I agree that RMC is not the same but the reasons are complex. The fact that pilots trained in their Summers meant a lot to the group. We accomplished something together as part of college life. Pilots no longer train until after they graduate from RMC. And, at the expense of a sexist remark, I will add that male bonding is not the same when there are women around.
I'm afraid you're too late to see the marching at our 40th reunion. We've been there, done that. (Or at least most of the others did. Being a slacker by nature, I didn't show up until the parade was over.) I believe our next reunion is to be the 43rd in 2000, since most of us will join the Old Brigade in 2003. (The Old Brigade status marks 50 years after entry.) I have no doubt whatever that you would be welcome to watch us hobble along. After all, at the 40th, we had 7 of the 11 widows that Al Roberts managed to contact. If you do come, be sure to include the Friday night dinner. At this stage of our lives, we're in better form there than we are on the parade square. And our roll call is unique.
Again, thank you for the encouragement.
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