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Dr. Robert (Bob) Lowe

January 8, 2017

Dr. Robert (Bob) Lowe

Professor Emeritus – University of Western Ontario

Died Sunday, January 8, 2017 at the age of 81. He was predeceased by his wife Sally. He will be missed by many: sister Margaret Marr (Max – 1980), brother John; children Vicki Hood (David), Peter Lowe and Anne Harland (John Milne); grandson Alex Hood (Ashley); nieces and nephews Sandra Dunbar (Paul – 2013), Shirley Myles, Steven and Julia Lowe; great-nieces Becky Myles (Justin), Jennifer Davies (Todd); and great-great-niece Taryn Davies. Bob had an all consuming passion for his work. His international research in Astronomy and Physics enabled him to travel worldwide indulging in another of his passions, international cuisine. He loved to debate a point and was an avid reader on a wide variety of topics. Our family would like to express appreciation for the compassion and friendship of Gail and Avril. Their efforts enabled Bob to die at home which was his wish. Thank you to all the dear friends who have visited, called and sent emails to Bob during the last two weeks. We invite everyone to a reception on Sunday, January 22, 2017 from 1:00 to 5:00 p.m. at Westview Funeral Chapel, 709 Wonderland Road North, London. Please drop by to share your memories and stories. Inurnment will take place in the spring at The Old St. Thomas Cemetery. Those wishing to make a donation in memory of Bob are asked to consider FSHD Canada Foundation or the Elgin Middlesex Cancer Society.

 Born in England, Bob came to Canada as a small child with his family on a troop ship after the start of the Second World War.  Disembarking in Halifax, they went by train to St. Thomas, eventually settling in Port Stanley, where Bob grew up.  He came to UWO as a first-year undergraduate.  Following graduation he was employed by the Defence Research Board (DRB) in Quebec.  Here he started his life-long study of the physics of the middle atmosphere and gained his mastery of the French language.  While employed by DRB, he enrolled in graduate study at UWO under the supervision of Ralph Nichols.  Shortly after completion of his graduate work, he left DRB to join the faculty of the Physics Department at UWO, eventually becoming an international-known authority on the earth’s hydroxyl (OH) night airglow that illuminates the night sky in near-infrared light.  This rather bright night light is not visible to human eyesight but is very helpful to some animals.  His research in the topic involved many collaborators world-wide and several graduate students at UWO.  Later in his career he was a leading investigator on measuring the hydroxyl airglow from a satellite instrument in space.

 Bob’s research in Astronomy started with a balloon-capable infrared interferometer borrowed from DRB that he converted to an instrument operable at the UWO Astronomical Observatory.  The initial object was a highly publicized new comet, one that typically turned out to disappoint.  More success came from the study of bright cooler stars and especially the Orion Nebula.  Eventually these successes led to observing time on the Canadian-France-Hawaii Telescope to measure the level of the improbable-sounding ion molecule Helium Hydride (HeH+) in a bright planetary nebula.

 -Friend and Colleague, Jim Moorhead


“It is not in the stars to hold our destiny but in ourselves.”

                                                                                                   -William Shakespeare


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I have known Bob for over 25 years ever since I was formally associated with the department from 1990. We used to have many pleasant conversations in the hallways of the department. One summer, he was nice to employ one of my former graduate students Marc Normandin who was later associated with the LIGO team on the Discovery of Gravitational Waves that was announced in February 2016. Bob's very pleasant smile, his friendly nature and jolly disposition will always remain etched in my memory. He was a very good physicist and human being ! May His Soul Rest in Peace !

~ Ram Valluri

Our deepest condolences to the family of Bob. An amazing man who will be greatly missed but never forgotten. Kim & Les Sim

~ Kim&Les Sim

We are deeply saddened by the news of Bob's passing. The good memories of his friendly and gentle soul, and his kindness will never be forgotten. Our deepest sympathy to the family.

~ Zbigniew and Hanna Krzeminski

I've known Bob since I was a baby which was quite some time ago, considering I'm 17 now. I rememeber going to his house frequently with my mom, and running around the house while they spoke. Half of the books I've read were given or recommened to me by Bob. He was a great person and friend and will be missed greatly!

~ Ava Gayle

(Donated to FSHD Canada Foundation)


(Donated to Elgin Middlesex Cancer Society)

~ Bob Sica

(Donated to FSHD Canada Foundation)

~ Patricia Sica

(Donated to FSHD Canada Foundation)

~ Shirley Myles

(Donated to FSHD Canada Foundation)

~ Sandra Dunbar

(Donated to Elgin Middlesex Cancer Society)

~ Margaret Marr

(Donated to FSHD Canada Foundation)

~ James M. Moorhead

(Donated to FSHD Canada Foundation)

~ James M. Moorhead

(Donated to FSHD Canada Foundation)

~ The University of Western Ontario

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