At one month old, Vincent became the first baby treated on the William M. Lowden Estate Pediatric Floor. His mom, Rylee Fronk said, raved about the beautiful, modern pediatrics floor in the new Women’s and Children’s Center, a significant improvement from the old quarters.
Vincent, like many children now and to come, benefits from the legacy of William M. Lowden, who died at age 91.
If he could see what his estate has done, William would be so proud, his daughter Catherine Lowden said.
“He would be in tears to see this, but they would be happy tears,” she said. “He would think this is awesome.”
William Lowden “started from nothing,” building his business through hard work and his estate through investment and frugality. He was the kind of guy who would go across town for cheaper oranges and stoop to pick up a penny on the sidewalk.
Only after his passing did Catherine learn how he put his money to work in his community and beyond.
“He saved his money to contribute to the causes he cared about,” she said.
William grew up during the Great Depression, born in Buffalo, N.Y. and then Grand Rapids, Mich. He was a World War II combat veteran who received a Bronze Star for heroism. He was in the US Army’s 19th Infantry Regiment and fought in New Guinea and on four islands in the Philippians. He was a proud member of the VFW.
William worked for a Midwest food broker, representing manufacturers’ products to stores, before he headed west to Montana and struck out on his own. He began with one client, Jolly Time Popcorn of Sioux City, Iowa, and grew his business from there, traveling across the state and eventually merging with a Butte broker.
Catherine’s mom died in a car accident in 1973, when Catherine was only 20. She and William were close, and he took pride in her teaching career.
“He was a wonderful father to me,” she said. “he had unconditional love for me.”
Catherine might have lost her father, too, before she had the chance to know him in her adulthood. William’s heart gave out on him in 1986. He needed a quadruple bypass.
William exercised and planted potatoes on the last day before the stroke that ended his life in 2016.
“He was always thankful to Benefis that he recovered and had a normal life. He got a second chance at life and another 30 years,” Catherine said.