For Significant Contribution to the Party and the Community
It is a rare opportunity to honor a person whose life has positively impacted so many others and helped reshape the image of a whole community, a whole county in fact. So, it is a special privilege for the Polk County Republican Party to recognize Lowell Crew for his positive influence and actions from the time he first set foot in Texas up until the beginning of 2021 when he retired from the Vice Chairman position in the Polk County Republican Party. We also extend our debt of gratitude to his lovely wife Sharen who was by his side every step of the way.
Lowell was not born in Texas, but like many of us, got here as quickly as he could. Lowell was born and raised on a farm in Wauseon, Ohio. He claims Findlay, Ohio as his hometown. Findlay is the home place of Marathon PL.
Lowell’s career of service began while he was still young. Following graduation from Corey Rawson High School in Rawson, Ohio, Lowell, then 17, enlisted in the Navy. He went to ICA, which is carrier school. He served during the Korea War, specializing specialized in electronics. He served 4 years active duty and another 8 in the reserves.
Upon returning to Findlay after serving his country, Lowell ran into Sharen at the local fair. Both being from Findlay, Lowell and Sharen knew each other as kids. Once they reconnected at the fair, the rest is history. That was in 1958, and by February of 1959 Lowell and Sharen were married. Lowell and Sharen had four children who helped shape their lives and forge their commitment to service.
Lowell worked for Marathon for 10 years. While employed at Marathon, Lowell was key in pioneering what would come to be known as an electronic compensator. It allowed for a more precise calculation of how much product traveled through a pipeline. Lowell trained technicians, and negotiated oil loss claims, among other things while in the oil business.
In 1969 Texas was fortunate that Shell lured Lowell and his family to Texas. They took up residence in southwest Houston in a brand new development called Braeburn Valley West. The Crew’s were the twelfth family to move into the new neighborhood. The seeds of Lowell’s political involvement were planted there as he became president of Braeburn Valley West Civic Association and the neighborhood grew to 1,200 homes. Lowell served 12 years at the helm.
The Republican Precinct Chair of Braeburn West was on Lowell’s civic association board. In 1970 they needed a place for the neighborhood to vote. Lowell’s garage became the official polling location for the 1970 election. He distinctly recalls it taking 6
hours round trip to turn in the ballots. They had to be driven downtown and the line was extremely long.
Lowell’s life didn’t revolve around the Republican Party back then. You couldn’t say the same thing about baseball. Lowell coached youth baseball in southwest Houston for 18 years. He didn’t just coach, He was a trailblazer.
While serving as President of Braeburn Little League, Lowell received a phone call out of the blue from Bragg Stockton, the head coach of the University of Houston Cougar baseball team. Coach Stockton was looking for a league to begin using pitching machines for their 7-8 year old youth league. Lowell agreed to attempt to convince his league to accept the idea. Lowell sold the idea by getting all twelve coaches to agree that games would increase from 4 to 6 innings, and that the pitching machines would be used for the first half of the season with the option to continue using the pitching machines for the second half of the season if they were acceptable. The pitching machines were a huge success. Braeburn Little League was the first in Houston to adopt this technology, a change so significant it earned a blurb in Sports Illustrated. Over the next few years pitching machines were adopted throughout Houston.
Lowell became aware that not all kids were football material He recognized a need for more options. Seeing none, Lowell started a baseball league that would go from the end of summer to November 1st. Southwest Winter League was born. Lowell wanted it to be known that he wasn’t trying to complete with football, this was Texas after all. He just wanted something to keep the smaller kids busy. Lowell was once again a trendsetter since it is now common for athletes in school to train and compete in their sport year round. Kids traveled from all over Houston to play in Lowell’s Southwest Winter League. Williamsport Pennsylvania liked the idea and approached Lowell about the league becoming part of their outfit. Lowell agreed to let them take over the league only if they agreed to keep the same configuration. They agreed.
Lowell’s Braeburn Valley West home was on a cul-de-sac that backed up to a large power line clearing. Lowell saw the 15 acre space as a convenient place to play baseball. So he leased the land from the power company and turned it into 4 practice fields. Lowell purchased some equipment and maintained the fields himself. A resident apparently didn’t like the sound or sight of children playing so she attempted to sic the famed Eye Witness News investigative journalist Marvin Zindler on Lowell’s operation.It was to no avail. Upon speaking with Lowell, Zindler quickly recognized that the dual purpose space was in no way a nuisance to the disgruntled resident.
Those fields got lots of use and apparently the practice paid off. Like fine wine Lowell’s group of baseballers got better with age. His 17 and 18 year old team made it all the way to the World Series in San Jose, California. The team won their qualifying tournament in Dallas. The celebration was short lived once they realized they were going to have to figure out how in the world they were going to get to San Jose the very next weekend. If you need to know the way to San Jose, just ask Lowell Crew. He led the way to San Jose. It’s very likely, with his can do attitude, he knows the way to everywhere else too. Impressively, in just 3 days that team raised $14,000 to fund the trip. Keep in mind that in 1983, $14,000 was enough to buy two Ford F-150’s.
Lowell began coming to Polk County in 1996 when he bought 12 acres from Glenn Nettles. Lowell’s sister Carol had moved to Livingston and she gave him Glenn’s number. In 1999 Lowell bought some additional acreage from Mr. Nettles which gave him 30 altogether. That’s when he and Sharen made the move to Livingston.
Carol had told Elouise Borie about Lowell and she called and invited him to come to election training. He went and worked the election that year. It was the 2000 election and he was paired with Rita Bloodworth to work Box 16 at the old VFW. It wasn’t long before Lowell was coordinating the primary election for the Republican side. All in all Lowell was a fixture as the election administrator for the Polk County Republican Party for 18 years.
Lowell served off and on as County Chair of the party, a total of 6 years to his recollection. That amounts to 3 terms. For many years he served as the Vice Chair as he administered elections.
When Lowell arrived in Polk County there was only one Republican in office. Judge Darrell Longino was the Justice of the Peace for Precinct 1. There was not a single county wide republican in office. Dr. Wally Wilkerson, the long time Montgomery County Chair, told Lowell that the key to turning the county from blue to red would be to get a Republicans elected to a county wide office. Enter Kenneth Hammack, a retired Texas Ranger that had now made Livingston his home. Hammack was working for the county as an environmental officer and had an office in the old hospital. Lowell was county chair at the time. For weeks leading up to the 2004 election, Lowell was in Hammack’s office almost daily, hounding him to run for Sheriff. Lowell recalls the difficult part wasn’t talking him into running, but convincing him to run as a Republican. No Republican had ever won a county wide election in Polk County in recent history, if ever. Lowell gave Hammack an application for a place on the ballot weeks prior. About a week before the deadline during one of Lowell’s trips to his office, Hammack pulled from his desk the application with check included, handed it to Lowell, and told him he was indeed running as a Republican. In 2005 Kenneth Hammack became the first Republican Sherriff in Polk County. Dr. Wally was correct and every election cycle Republicans won more offices. After the election in 2016, Polk County no longer had a single Democrat in any office in the county.
Today, the core of the Republican Party in Texas, a county that is solidly Republican, is built on the foundation and leadership of Lowell Crew. Though many have led the charge to change Polk County from Blue to solid Red, none played a more significant role. So, we are thrilled to recognize Lowell today and in the future when we honor others, who make strong contributions to the Party, let us always remember Lowell as the foundation upon which our Party success was built.