Catoosa County, Ga., Probate Judge Gene Lowery died Wednesday night at a hospital in Calhoun, Ga., from melanoma, a type of skin cancer that started on his foot and had metastasized, or spread, throughout his body.
"When Gene passed away, he had 35 people in the room with him," said Dr. Stephen Anthony, pastor of Peavine Baptist Church in Rock Spring, where Lowrey was a deacon, Sunday school teacher and sang in the Pipeline Quartet. "Gene was well loved."
Several hundred people a day came to visit Lowery in the hospital, Anthony said.
The funeral service will be at 5 p.m. Saturday at Peavine Baptist Church. The family will receive friends at the church from 2-8 p.m. Friday and from 3-5 p.m. Saturday.
"I have a feeling it's going to be packed to the walls," said Keith Bates, chief court administrator for the Lookout Mountain Judicial Circuit, who's a member of the church that gets about 1,000 worshippers each Sunday.
Lowery, 54, collapsed a few weeks ago at a training event in Athens, Ga. Friends and church members donated money, Anthony said, so he could be flown to a cancer center in Washington, D.C., that specializes in melanoma. But doctors there couldn't help him.
"The cancer had gotten into his brain," Anthony said.
Lowery's father, mother, sister and brother all have battled cancer, he said.
Lowery, a lifelong Catoosa County resident, had served as probate judge since 2004. He also was Catoosa County Magistrate Court judge from 1993-96 and worked as a county sheriff's deputy, a DARE officer and a dispatcher, county attorney Clifton "Skip" Patty said.
"He loved to sing gospel music," Patty said.
Survivors include his wife of 30 years, Sandy Moore Lowery; daughter and son-in-law, Casey (Danny) Plunkett, Ringgold, Ga.; son and daughter-in-law, Steven (Katie) Lowery, Ringgold; parents, Jerry and Judy Pharr Lowery, Ringgold; brother, Bill (Sharone) Lowery, Ooltewah; sister, Chareen (Steve) Humble, Ringgold; and a granddaughter, Avery Plunkett.
Ringgold Municipal Court Judge Robert Stultz will serve as interim probate judge. Stultz also serves as city attorney for Fort Oglethorpe. The probate court judge position will be added to the ballot in November to permanently fill Lowery's seat.
Contact staff writer Tim Omarzu at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6651.
Tim Omarzu covers education for the Times Free Press. Omarzu is a longtime journalist who has worked as a reporter and editor at daily and weekly newspapers in Michigan, Nevada and California.