Golconda, Illinois , United States
Aug 30, 2013 09:10pm
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Judge Lowery served as a Circuit Court Judge in the First Judicial Circuit of Illinois. He was elected in 1980 as a Resident Circuit Judge of Pope County. His assignments as a Judge included the southernmost nine counties of the First Judicial Circuit as well as assignments to Chicago. During one eight-month assignment in Chicago, Judge Lowery presided in the Adult Criminal Courts Division at 26th and California. Judge Lowery was retained in his office by the voters of the nine counties of the First Judicial Circuit in 1986, 1992, 1998, and 2004. He retired after 26 years of service in 2006.
Prior to being elected to a judgeship, Don maintained a private law practice. His first position after graduation from law school was based in Alexander County with the States Attorney Task Force in which he served as a special prosecutor throughout the First Judicial Circuit. He then worked as a public defender in Saline County, Illinois, prior to being appointed Assistant States Attorney and then States Attorney of Massac County, Illinois. As a States Attorney and a Circuit Judge, Judge Lowery has served as a public official in two of the three branches of Illinois government. He also served as a field attorney for the Illinois State Board of Elections in the 1978 general election.
In 1988 Judge Lowery was a candidate on the Republican ticket for one of the four vacancies available on the Fifth District Appellate Court. He ran a very competitive race in the 37 counties of the Fifth Appellate District of Illinois. Judge Lowery placed fifth out of eight candidates in the vote tally as four Democrats were elected to fill those four vacancies in that election.. Judge Lowery was the Republican candidate who came closest to winning a seat on the Fifth District Appellate Court in that 1988 election.
Throughout his judicial career, Judge Lowery was concerned about the recidivism rate of repeat offenders. He was co-founder of an educational project and the Judicial Coordinator for the Pilot Educational Project for Career Planning for Criminal Offenders in conjunction with an administrator of Southeastern Illinois College who was affiliated with Vienna Correctional Center of the Illinois Department of Corrections. This project was very successful as it resulted in lowering the recidivism rate of participants to three per cent (3%). Even though lack of grant funding ultimately ended the project, Judge Lowery remained true to this ideal in his work that educational opportunity is a key component to lowering prison populations in America.
During Judge Lowery’s career, he served on the Illinois Judicial Ethics Committee of the Illinois Judges Association. As a judge, he also was Chairperson of the First Judicial Circuit Probation Oversight Committee. In this capacity, he worked directly for Chief Judge Michael Henshaw and acted as liaison to the County Boards, obtained funding, and provided oversight over all budgetary expenditures. During this time Judge Lowery was responsible for establishing sound fiscal priorities in the operation of an annual budget of two-million dollars ($2,000,000).
His fiscal management established a reserve fund to handle the growing problem of the State of Illinois not meeting their funding requirements on a timely basis. This reserve fund enabled the Circuit Probation Department to continue operations and meet payroll even when the State was not meeting their funding obligations. During his tenure as Chairman of the Probation Oversight Committee, Judge Lowery’s philosophy of fiscal conservatism minimized the expenditures necessary from the counties.
While a Judge, Don taught an adult education class in constitutional law for Southeastern Illinois College. For several years, he also served as a guest speaker for the Criminal Justice Program at Shawnee Community College.
Since Judge Lowery prevalently presided over criminal cases and domestic affairs dockets, he was always concerned about the domestic abuse of women and abuse and neglect of children. At his retirement, the Anna Bixby Center for victims of domestic violence presented him with a plaque honoring his professional contribution to addressing those issues.
Judge Lowery commenced his college degree in 1970 after returning from a tour of duty in Viet Nam with the U. S. Army. He completed his Bachelor of Science in Economics at Southern Illinois University Carbondale. He was honored with the Wall Street Journal Outstanding Student in Economics Award his senior year at SIUC. Judge Lowery was a member of the charter class of the SIUC School of Law from which he was an early graduate in December 1975. He also was a charter member of the law school Ethics Council and served as chairman his senior year. He was the recipient of the 1976 Outstanding Alumnus Award of Phi Alpha Delta Law Fraternity at SIUC. During the time Judge Lowery attended SIUC on the G.I .Bill, he also was a student worker on campus and worked full-time while attending law school. Judge Lowery was the first alumnus of the SIUC School of Law to be elected a circuit judge.
Prior to attending college, Judge Lowery served in the U. S. Army. He was drafted during the Viet Nam war as a Private E-1. He attended Officer Candidate School at Fort Belvore, Virginia, and was commissioned a Second Lieutenant in June 1967. He was assigned to a tour of duty in Korea and was there during the Pueblo Crisis. After returning from Korea, he taught target detection at Fort Dix, New Jersey. In 1969 Judge Lowery volunteered for a tour of duty in Viet Nam. During this tour, he was promoted to the rank of Captain and awarded the Bronze Star, Air Medal, and Army Commendation Medal for his service in Viet Nam. Upon his return from Viet Nam, he left active duty and volunteered to serve in the Illinois National Guard.
Judge Lowery is a Life Member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars. In the past he has served as a post trustee, District 15 Judge Advocate, and Assistant State Judge Advocate for Districts 13, 14, 15.
Following retirement from the judiciary, Judge Lowery hosted a public affairs radio show on WGGH Radio, AM 1150, in Marion, Illinois. This program, Focus, focused on issues affecting Illinois and the local region. He interviewed various public officials, doctors, social service providers, disaster preparedness officials, and financial consultants in an effort to keep the listening audience informed about current issues.
After retirement, Judge Lowery also attended maritime school and earned his Master Captain’s license in the Merchant Marine.
He is a Life and Endowment Member of the National Rifle Association. He also served as a past president of a local Rotary chapter. Other civic duties include previous membership on Pope County Housing Authority, local Senior Citizens Council, Lieutenant Governor’s Council on Aging, and various college scholarship committees.
Before entering the military, Don was employed at the Archer Daniels Midland Chemical Plant in Mapleton, Illinois. He was a member of the Oil, Chemical, and Atomic Workers Union. Prior to this job, he worked as a spray painter at Clay Meyer Manufacturing in Morton, Illinois.
Don was raised in Tazewell County, Illinois. He graduated from Deer Creek-Mackinaw High School in Mackinaw, Illinois. During his high school years, Don was honored by his classmates by being elected class president his freshman and senior years. Don’s wife, Nita, also graduated from Deer Creek-Mackinaw High School and is a graduate of Illinois State University, Normal, Illinois. Don and Nita were married in 1972 in Mackinaw, Illinois. They currently reside on a grain farm in southern Illinois.