Kevin Lowry, from Norfolk, first left his home when he was 11 years old.
His father often struggled with alcoholism, arrests and other things during his youth, according to Lowry. And his broken home eventually led to a sporadic childhood of moving from place to place. However, Lowry ended up achieving great things despite his upbringing.
After leaving his home in Norfolk at age 11, he lived in a children’s home in Oklahoma for a few years, Lowry said. He then returned to Nebraska and attended another public school in Lincoln. Eventually he found his way back to Norfolk, where he enrolled in Norfolk High School as a freshman.
“I was in and out of homes, public schools and foster homes,” Lowry said, “and I think by the time I was about 15, I was on the wrong track and I dropped out of school.”
According to Lowry, he dropped out of high school during the Christmas break of his freshman year. He ended up working in construction instead of taking classes. However, he was injured on the job soon after and could no longer do construction work.
“I thought that would be my future, but it ended up being a good thing because then I went back to school in 10th grade,” Lowry said. “I was almost illiterate because of so many trips to schools and homes. (I was) really far behind in school.
According to Lowry, he met Vauri Henre after he started attending Norfolk High School again. She was one of his English teachers.
“I think (Henre) had a big impact on my life when that was probably the most important,” Lowry said. “It was during a time when I was moving from being a high school dropout to going back to school to try to build a different future and life for myself.”
Lowry said Henre and Mary Smalley, the former Norfolk High School nurse, would always watch him to make sure he was okay. Henre also tutored him and helped him stay in school, he said.
According to Lowry, he also worked at the Norfolk YMCA while at school, where he met a lot of “really good people”.
“With no family life, you learn from the people around you, and I think Norfolk was a good place for that,” Lowry said. “I was exposed to a lot of good people, so that was important.”
After graduating from Norfolk High School in 1981, Lowry attended Northeast Community College. Soon after, he left Norfolk to attend Kearney State College, which is now the University of Nebraska at Kearney. There he obtained his Bachelor of Science degree. But he didn’t stop there.
According to Lowry, he moved to Las Vegas to work at a boys’ home after working at the Nebraska Correctional Youth Facility and the Nebraska State Penitentiary. He also worked for the Nevada State Prison and a County Juvenile Court for a time.
“And then in January 1991, after my background check, I was hired as the federal probation and parole officer at the time,” Lowry said.
Lowry said he became a special offender specialist, where he focused on gangs, organized crime, the witness protection program and high-risk offenders. And during his time as a special offender specialist, he attended graduate school at the University of Nevada in Las Vegas and earned a master’s degree.
“I never stopped being a student after being a failed student early in my life,” Lowry said. “I (then) became a supervisor and moved into management because I wanted to help on a bigger scale, and I thought if I worked with more officers I could have a bigger impact.”
Lowry said he stayed in touch with Henre for a while, but his career kept him busy as he progressed through the workforce and found it difficult to reconnect with people.
According to Lowry, he was pretty much married to his career.
“It’s just something that’s always been my passion because of how I grew up,” Lowry said. “And I’ve always thought it was important to give back because so many good people have given me so many things that have helped me succeed. … So I want to do that professionally with other people.
Henre, however, never gave up trying to reconnect with Lowry after years of not hearing from him. He usually kept her number in his wallet, she said, but it was destroyed over the years.
According to Henre, she was on a cruise ship in June when she was able to reconnect with Lowry.
Henre said she was conversing with another cruise passenger who had recently retired from a US probation office. Remembering that Lowry worked at the US probation office in Minnesota, she asked the passenger if she knew what her former student was doing.
Henre said the passenger then searched for Lowry for her and told her the good news that he was still alive and well.
“It brought me to tears, because I was so excited to know he was okay,” Henre said.
However, that was not all.
According to Henre, the passenger also told him that he had retired from his position as Chief United States Probation Officer for the Minnesota District Court and was “probably the number one person in the States.” United, perhaps even globally, for the establishment of probation systems”. for extremists.
“She said he’s been all over the world setting up these systems for extremists,” Henre said. “And she said he’s currently working for the UN, he’s testified before Congress and the UN And she said he’s been really, really successful and made a name for himself, … I was just thrilled. It did.
Henre said she was able to find Lowry’s number with the passenger’s help. She then reached out and heard from Lowry a few hours later.
“It was like hearing about one of my long-lost sons,” Henre said. “I was like, ‘Oh my God, he’s alive. He’s fine and he’s done fine.’
Lowry now works as an expert consultant on criminal extremism and terrorism for a variety of agencies, ranging from county to international jurisdictions.
“I was so proud of him,” Henre said. “I just think what he’s done is remarkable.”