In Rememberance of Marita A. Lowman
Marita A. LowmanScranton, PA August 1, 1951 ~ October 21, 2011 Date of Service: October 25, 2011
Marita Dempsey Lowman, 60, of Scranton, a prize-winning reporter and editor for the Scranton Times/Sunday Times and Wilkes-Barre Times Leader newspapers, died Friday at Mountain View Care Center, Scranton, after a lengthy illness.
Born in Dunmore, she was the daughter of the late Joseph and Carmel Sandone Dempsey. She attended Christ the King grade school and graduated from Cathedral High School on a full diocesan piano scholarship. She earned her degree in journalism from East Stroudsburg University.
A prolific writer with a fine, inquiring mind, Marita began her career in journalism after college with a small Carbondale weekly. A quick learner, she signed on just months later with the Times Leader, Wilkes-Barre, as a general assignment reporter from 1981 to 1985. Her beat included news, features and investigative pieces on city, county government, politics, crime, social services and health care. She covered a presidential inauguration, the George Banks mass murder (for which she received national attention, including a New York Times article), and a child abuse case series that prompted local and state reforms and for which she won an award.
In 1985, Marita was named a court reporter covering Luzerne County Common Pleas Court. Two years later, she was named Times Leader city editor, supervising a 21-member news staff. Although Marita was a fine manager, she took the opportunity to leave the city desk and return to staff writing as she became the Times Leader principal investigative reporter in 1990. Her stories during this period were legendary, including the Wolsieffer murder case as well as investigations into city, county and public agency spending practices.
Marita joined the staff of the Intelligencer, Doylestown, as an editor in 1993, where she planned, assigned and edited daily local news stories and special projects. She came home and joined the staff of the Scranton Times/Sunday Times four years later, where her reporting style re-energized the local paper.
Her journalism awards over the years were numerous and included first-place, Keystone Press Award, 1988, 1991, 1992, 1993 and the U.S. Postal Service outstanding contributions to journalism, 2003. She also won, among other honors, first-place in the health and medical reporting category of the 2001 Spotlight Contest conducted by the Keystone Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists.
By training and experience, Marita was an aggressive and accurate reporter who always got answers to her questions. She started her day with a strong cup of coffee and a list of prospects for stories. But, Marita had an extraordinary soft, sweet side to her, too.
Marita had a spiritual side. She had a mission. Marita's coverage of Scranton Diocesan and other religious happenings of people of all faiths was extraordinary in its scope and depth of subject. The Novena at St. Ann's Monastery was, for the first time, humanized in her interviews with actual attendees. These were page 1 stories, never told before.
One of her priority missions was Haiti. In 2000, Marita and Times photographer Rich Banick accompanied Bishop James C. Timlin and others from the Diocese of Scranton on a weeklong mission to poverty-stricken Haiti. They visited the worst of the island country's slums and some of the best projects missionaries had undertaken there. It was her mission of love. That mission led to subsequent trips to Haiti and to her running in the Race for the Cure and the Steamtown marathon. She served as an usher at the Cathedral Church.
Marita's greatest tragedy was the loss of her son, Brian. She never got over it. He was very special and dear to her as only a mother can know. She loved time spent with him at their Lake Ariel cottage and the trips to the village and rowing to Dumman's Island for blueberries. Until her illness, she ran at Lake Ariel with Guito, her loving dog, and took time there from her busy schedule to catch up with cousins and friends.
Marita was a remarkable and special woman. Her mission continued through her illness. Those who cared for her in her final months at Mountain View Care Center all echo the same sentiments: "Marita kept her smile. There was no anger. There was no bitterness. She died with dignity."
Surviving are a granddaughter, Essence Gibson; a sister, Mary Jo Cannon and husband, Michael; a nephew, Mark Cannon; a niece, Colleen Cannon; and several cousins.
The family would also like to thank the staff at Mountain View Care Center and Hospice of the Sacred Heart for the wonderful care they provided.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to Mountain View Care Center, 2309 Stafford Ave., Scranton, PA 18505; or to Hospice of the Sacred Heart, 600 Baltimore Drive, Wilkes-Barre, PA 18702.
The funeral will be Tuesday from the Carlucci-Golden-DeSantis Funeral Home, 318 E. Drinker St., Dunmore, PA 18512, with a Mass at 10:30 a.m. at Immaculate Conception Church, 801 Taylor Ave., Scranton, PA 18510.
Friends may call Monday from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.