Lowell Georgia, an award-winning photographer for the Green Bay Press-Gazette, the Denver Post, and the National Geographic Society passed away on Feb. 24. Georgia, a longtime Arvada resident, was 87.
Georgia began working for the Press-Gazette when he was just 14, hauling newspapers around and helping out in the press room. When he was 16, he was asked to work in the dark room with the paper’s photographers, lugging their cameras and learning the trade in turn.
At the Press-Gazette, Georgia photographed the Green Bay Packers and coach Vince Lombardi’s arrival to Wisconsin in 1959. During his stint at the Press-Gazette, Georgia won an armful of awards, including National Press Photographer of the Year, Inland Newspaper Association Trophy and Wisconsin Press Photographer of the year.
In 1960, Georgia moved to Denver to work for the Post. With a wife and three kids in tow, Georgia, unfamiliar with the area, devised a plan to help decide where his budding family should settle.
He unfurled a large map of the Denver Metro area and kept an ear on the Post’s police scanner, placing a pin in the map where the crime had occurred each time the police were called. After a few weeks, Georgia found that Arvada had fewer pins than any other locale in the area and decided to settle his family there.
After seven years at the Denver Post, Georgia began freelancing for the National Geographic Society. He was often given assignments in cold climates such as Canada and the Arctic Circle because, in the words of Lowell’s daughter Terry Georgia, “He was the only one who had long underwear.”
As a freelancer Georgia was granted more freedom than in prior positions, and began taking his wife, Mary Kay, or one of their six children along on assignments.
“He would take one of us along for a couple of weeks so we could experience what it was like and see him work and experience travel,” said Terry Georgia. “So, it was really important for him to spend time with us as much as he could despite his schedule, and mom went with him a couple of times too — she got to go to the fun places like Hong Kong and Australia.”
Even when Lowell was alone on assignment, he stayed in touch with his family, sending postcards frequently and calling almost every night. When he was home, Lowell was hesitant to talk about his work, preferring to hear about his family’s pursuits.
“It was very hard to get him to show off or even put pictures on the wall,” said Terry. “And the quote that I always remember is he said, `If I was a dentist, would I put teeth on the wall?’”
“He was very humble,” said Lowell’s daughter Anne Hanson. “And his sense of humor was phenomenal.”
Lowell’s sense of humor endeared him to a large contingent of friends, including Larry Svoboda, who Lowell called his “Brother from another mother.” Svoboda and Georgia met at St. Anne’s Catholic Church in Arvada, where Lowell and Mary Kay attended mass nearly every day that he wasn’t on assignment.
Svoboda said that his warmth and humor enriched the days of everyone Lowell came into contact with.
“He had this uncanny ability to make puns off of words that were really not obvious to anyone else,” said Svoboda. “His jokes were never self-denigrating or other-denigrating; it was always building a person up. Like, `It’s a super day for a super person – like you.’ Being around him would always build you up.”
When asked what the Georgia household was like with Lowell around, Mary Kay summarized it with just one word; “Laughter.”
The Georgia family held a private funeral service for Lowell on Thursday March 4. They hope to hold a larger celebration of Lowell’s life this summer. The family has asked that any donations be made to the Shrine of St. Anne’s Catholic Church building fund.