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O'HARA: Remembering Gary Lowe

Gary Lowe didn't achieve the level of fame or recognition of his three Hall of Fame teammates in a Detroit Lions secondary known as the "Four L's," but he got no shortage of accolades from teammates for the way his performance and professionalism as a safety fit the unit to a T.

Lowe, a Lion from 1957-64, passed away earlier this month after a long illness. He was 83.

Lem Barney, who began his Hall of Fame career as cornerback with the Lions in 1967, recalled how former teammates Joe Schmidt and Jim David spoke highly of Lowe after his career had ended.

Schmidt, a Hall of Fame middle linebacker, was head coach when Barney joined the Lions . David was a Pro Bowl defensive back as a player and defensive coordinator under Schmidt.

"They always talked about him," Barney said. "He was a leader, a hitter and a good tackler, and he was sound fundamentally."

Lowe had made his mark at Trenton High School and Michigan State before entering the NFL in 1956 as the Washington Redskins' fifth-round draft pick. Lowe played one season with Washington and intercepted one pass.

He was released early in the 1957 season and picked up by the Lions in what was a transaction of mutual good fortune.

To the Lions' benefit, they added a solid, dependable safety who gave the franchise eight quality seasons until retiring after the 1964 season.

And Lowe had the benefit of playing for his hometown team and being a member of the 1957 team that won the NFL championship.

For a good portion of his career, Lowe played in a secondary that had three Hall of Famers – cornerbacks Dick "Night Train" Lane and Dick LeBeau, and safety Yale Lary.

Lowe was highly regarded in his own right.

Lowe had 19 of his 20 career interceptions as a Lion. He had a career-high five interceptions twice – in 1959 and 1961 – and led the NFL in interception return yards with 130 in 1959. Lowe also had 12 career fumble recoveries.

Lowe was a star in baseball, basketball and football at Trenton High and went to Michigan State on a football scholarship. He played on Michigan State's 1954 and '56 Rose Bowl teams and was captain of the 1956 Senior Bowl.

Lowe worked in the offseason, which was common in that era, and had a successful career in business after his retirement from football.

Lowe made his home in Metro Detroit. Survivors include his wife of 58 years, Patricia, and son Gary R. Lowe, according to the A.J. Desmond and Sons Funeral Home.

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