Dr. R. Neil Lowry, a well-known consultant to the pool and spa industry in Canada and the United States, has passed away. He was 67.
Lowry, a resident of Newmarket, Ontario, died suddenly March 28 after returning home from teaching a day-long class on water chemistry.
Lauded industrywide as one of the profession’s top chemists, he was the principal-in-charge of Lowry & Associates, a specialty chemical distributor
with the exclusive representation of Taylor Technologies’ water-testing products in Canada. Over the years, Lowry had developed a close relationship with many on the Taylor staff.
“It feels like I lost my left arm,” said Tom Metzbower, vice president of sales at the test kit manufacturer in Sparks, Md. “This is an absolute shock.”
Lowry was the chief educator and owner of the Lowry School of Pool & Spa Chemistry, as well as a contributing writer and commentator for numerous trade publications, particularly Canada’s Pool & Spa Marketing magazine. He also was the original author of Pool & Spa Chemistry: A Testing & Treatment Guide, which is widely recognized as the authority on water quality management.
But Lowry also had a significant impact on the U.S. pool and spa industry. He worked as an adviser to the Professional Pool Operators of America’s Board of Directors — and was the only Canadian voting member on the Association of Pool & Spa Professionals’ Recreational Water Quality Committee. That was where he began a longtime working relationship with Thomas Lachocki, Ph.D., CEO of the National Swimming Pool Foundation in Colorado Springs, Colo.
“I knew him for 11 years,” said Lachocki, who served as the Recreational Water Quality Committee chairman for APSP before moving to NSPF two years ago. “I always looked up to Neil. He was a very good chemist, and he put a lot of value into the science behind everything that was happening in the industry. He had a great knack for finding things that were technically sound and others that were [not]. The industry has really lost a lot.”
Lowry had a large influence on Canada’s $1.2 billion-a-year swimming pool and hot tub industry, according to a release from the Roadhouse & Rose Funeral Home in Newmarket. Thousands across the country became certified pool water technicians through his school. As a member of the Hot Tub Council of Canada, he contributed to the present regulations for public spas under the auspices of the Ontario Ministry of Health.
“He was a resource that I used on a weekly basis to clarify current issues and even things more arcane,” Metzbower said. “It’s rare when you can find someone you can talk to in such a narrow field. There are not many I can talk to who understand what I am talking about, but Neil was one of them.”
Born in Windsor, Ontario, Lowry earned a Bachelor of Science in chemistry from the University of Western Ontario, a doctorate in inorganic chemistry from Cornell University and a master’s degree from the University of Michigan in business administration. He established Lowry & Associates in 1985 with his wife, Gabriele.
Lowry is survived by his wife; his children, Michael, Derek and Sarah; and three grandchildren.
A memorial service was held April 3 in Toronto.