The Gold Star Kids Lemonade Stand hosted by youngsters Modie and Mitch Mikuzis outside their Beverly home was already a rousing success.

Dozens of people had swarmed to the kids’ front yard to raise money for the Conner T. Lowry Memorial Fund, named in honor of their cousin, the U.S. Marine who died in Afghanistan in 2012.

But then, Modie, 7, and Mitch, 5, heard the roar of a long procession of motorcycles.

When people enter the gym at St. John Fisher Elementary School (SJF), they will see on a shiny new floor, featuring the name at midcourt of a fallen hero: Conner T. Lowry

In addition, they will see phrases that describe Lowry and his personality: “Live Life Large” and “Live Life Kind.” read more.


Horse Theif Hollow presents Summer Swelter with the proceeds to benefit programs for veterans and the Conner T Lowry Memorial Fund. $20 admission that includes 3 foot or beer tickets.

Shane M. Slosar has decided to run the 41st Marine Corps Maraton in honor of Conner. He is accepting donations on gofundme and all of the proceeds will go to the Conner T Lowry Memorial Fund.


I will be running the 41st Marine Corps Marathon on October 30th, 2016 in honor of Cpl. Conner T. Lowry.

Cpl. Conner T. Lowry, an ammunition technician chief and fire team leader with Golf Battery, 2nd Battalion, 11th Marine Regiment Golf Battery, was KIA on March 1st, 2012, in Kajaki, AfghanistanHe was 24 years old.

Conner Lowry was the beloved son of dear family friends in Beverly, Chicago.  Conner always said “Live Life Large”.  Proof of his motto is in his scores of friends, most of whom he described as “his best friends.”  He loved as hard as he was loved.  His adventurous spirit took him across the country, and eventually across the world as a Marine.  And for every adventure is a T-Shirt, a photograph, and most importantly, a story.  Lowry stories are always rich in detail, humor, and filled with a little mischief.   Conner was tall, handsome, funny, playful, and giving.  His heart was open to anyone in need, whether it was a friend who needed a ride or a fellow soldier who needed safety.  The “Live Life Large” wristband I still wear on my wrist serves as a constant reminder of his service and sacrifice.

It is this spirit that the Conner T. Lowry Memorial Fund hopes to nurture for future generations for educational scholarships and to assist veterans and their families in need.

It is an honor to participate in the Marine Corps Marathon and I thank you for your contributions!

Shane M. Slosar

Live Live Large

By: Kevin Canavan


There once was a hero in a far off land

Yes, there was evil, but this hero would stand

He was a kid like me and you

He even went to SJFand Brother Rice too

The boy loved living; he saw every day as a gift

Whenever you were down, he would give you a lift

Live Life Large; this was his motto

Every day for him was like winning the lotto

High school was ending; he was becoming a man

Most kids don’t know what to do, but he had a plan

This time of life can be confusing for teens

But Conner had decided to join the Marines

Making this decision comes with great sacrifice

In defending our freedom, he payed the ultimate price

This hero had fallen and we grieved in his death

But heroes live on, even after their last breath

It was this neighborhood in which he took such great pride

For he loved nothing more than his dear ol’ South Side

What better way to honor such a great guy

Than to give back to his roots to help fellow Falcons fly

Through the great generosity of those who loved him most

This brave, young soldier now mans a new post

He watches over us now, that is his charge

His legacy inspires us to always Live Life Large

Now it is time for us all to do our part

Semper Fi, Conner Lowry

Forever in our hearts

Mother of fallen soldier finds solace in working with vets

By Charlie Jolie
May 22, 2016

Modie Lavin knows the true meaning of Memorial Day all too well. For her, it’s an occasion of deep sadness and profound pride, a sharp reminder of a devastating loss she healed by helping others heal as well.

An outreach coordinator for the Center for Veterans and Their Families at Rush University Medical Center, Lavin is the mother of Marine Corps Cpl. Conner T. Lowry, who died on patrol in Helmand Province, Afghanistan, on March 1, 2012. He was 24 years old. Tall, athletic, mischievous and fiercely proud of his Beverly neighborhood on Chicago’s South Side, Lowry was known for his motto, “live life large.”

Hundreds of people in Beverly lined the streets for his funeral, one of which now is named after him. Lowry also is honored with a bronzed battle cross — a memorial arrangement of his helmet, boots and dog tags, and a rifle stuck in the ground — placed in the park he cherished.

These tributes to their fallen neighbor have helped the famously close-knit Beverly community grieve. For Lowry’s mother, though, life both stopped and swirled.

“After Conner died, I spent a year at home lost in a walking nightmare,” recalls Lavin, a single mother of two and empty nester. “My heart knew I was surrounded by wonderful people, but I was in a haze. I could not move.”

‘Conner has handed me a blank canvas’

A self-employed decorative artist for 17 years, Lavin’s watched her business crumble in the year following Lowry’s death. She looked for a new job as much to give her a reason to get out of bed as to provide her with an income.

“It could have been any job, but something was pushing me towards anything that dealt with veterans,” she says. She found a job as a veterans program facilitator for the Chicago Park District, developing programs and coordinating events with the district, the Jesse Brown VA Medical Center and other community service providers.

Working on veterans’ issues, Lavin started to understand that “the more I did, the more I healed.” Looking to make an even greater impact, she joined the Center for Veterans and Their Families, also known as the Road Home Program, in 2015 as an outreach coordinator focused on families.

She raises awareness in Chicago-area communities about the Road Home Program by connecting directly with families and partnering with other veteran and family service providers. “Through these relationships, be it meetings, forums, events or casual talks, I am able to identify veterans and their families who might be in need of the services we provide,” Lavin says.

“I always thought my true calling in life was my art, but I feel Conner has handed me a blank canvas,” she says. “Each veteran or family member I can help is like a brush stroke on that canvas. When I’m done with this work I feel I will have created my true masterpiece.”

Traveling a road to healing together

Through the Road Home Program, which helps local veterans transition to civilian life, Rush became the first academic medical center in the Midwest to partner with local Veterans Affairs facilities to provide mental health care and social service coordination to military veterans and their families. Family members are typically not eligible for VA medical benefits, but when a when a veteran suffers, the vet’s family suffers as well. Incorporating spouses and children into therapy and counseling greatly aids their transition to civilian life.

“Combat is not just limited to a specific battle, or even our military fighting that day. Too many of our military service members continue to fight demons when they return,” Lavin says.

She adds that she is proud to “work in a place of healing as I heal.” At times, she’s felt as if her son is with her as she’s helping veterans.

‘Think about what the flag and Memorial Day mean’

That Lowry would be an inspiration to help fellow Marines is no surprise to the men he served with and fought beside. “When morale was down, we could count on Conner to lift Marines’ spirits,” says Marine Cpl. Christian Huerta, a cannon crewman and fire team leader who served with Lowry. “He was a true leader who did whatever was needed to take care of his fellow Marines.”

While Lavin is proud to be taking care of veterans and their families, and comforted by this work, the pain of her son’s death can return in an instant. Memorial Day weekend is an especially draining mix of activities and emotions, including frustration that was intended as a day of solemn remembrance has become for many merely the unofficial kickoff to summer.

“I used to put out the flag just like everyone, but now I just want Americans to think about what the flag and Memorial Day mean,” Lavin says. “People can still have barbecues and stores advertise mattress sales,” but she wishes they also would attend a parade, hold their hand over their heart when they pass a cemetery filled with graves strewn with flags, and take a moment to reflect about the blood that was shed “so they are free to have barbecues and shop the Memorial Day sales.”

She recognizes that trying to think about all the servicemen and women who have died in battle can be overwhelming or too abstract. Instead, Lavin suggests acknowledging veterans’ sacrifices just by trying to think of one fallen military member who paid the ultimate sacrifice for our country and how large they didn’t get to live.

by Caroline Connors
The late Cpl. Conner T. Lowry was memorialized in Beverly on March 1 with the dedication of a bronze sculpture and an honorary street in his name.

The ceremony took place at Beverly Park, 103rd Street and Maplewood Avenue, Lowry’s old stomping grounds, family members said, on the one-year anniversary of his death. Lowry, 24, a 2006 graduate of Br. Rice High School, was killed in action March 1, 2012, while serving with the U.S. Marine Corps in Afghanistan.

Coordinated by the office of 19th Ward Ald. Matt O’Shea, the ceremony included a number of officials from the city of Chicago, including O’Shea, Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Chicago Fire Department Commissioner Jose Santiago, Chicago Park District Superintendent and CEO Mike Kelly, 14th Ward Ald. Ed Burke, 11th Ward Ald. James Balcer and Office of Emergency Management and Communications Director Gary Schenkel.
Also in attendance were dozens of Lowry’s family members and friends and hundreds of schoolchildren from St. John Fisher Elementary School, Lowry’s alma mater.

The ceremony began just after 9 a.m. with the unveiling of a street sign on the northeast corner of 103rd Street and Maplewood Avenue dedicating the 10200 block of South Maplewood Avenue as Honorary Cpl. Conner Lowry Way. The Rev. John McNalis, a chaplain for the Chicago Fire Department and a 23-year veteran of the U.S. Air Force, offered a prayer for Lowry, his family and the U.S. Marine Corps.

As the street sign was unveiled from its covering, Lowry’s sister, Grace Lavin, provided an unintentional moment of levity when she accidentally snapped the cord that was designed to release the covering from the sign. Laughing, she was lifted on the shoulders of several men in attendance to successfully accomplish the task.

The group then walked across the field at Beverly Park to an area outside the park field house for the dedication of a bronze sculpture made up of a rifle, boots, helmet and dog tags. Known as a fallen soldier battle cross, the memorial was sculpted by CFD firefighter and paramedic John Alaniz, who also contributed pieces to the firefighter memorial at King-Lockhart Park at 106th Street and Western Avenue. The sculpture is mounted on a granite base with an inscription that honors Lowry and “all our U.S. armed forces who serve in war and peace.”

In their remarks, O’Shea, Kelly and Emanuel remembered Lowry as both fun loving and courageous and offered the memorial as an everlasting symbol of his life and the ultimate sacrifice that he made. Emanuel thanked Lowry’s family for sharing the dedication of the monument with the community and the city.
“Thank you for letting us have a little piece of this moment to share with you,” Emanuel said, “not to just be by your side, but to share with your family and remember what Conner was about and what he asked, not just of himself, but of all of us.”

Lavin concluded the dedication by thanking those present and the community at large for the support given to her family over the past year as its members continue to cope with the loss of Lowry’s life.

“We couldn’t have done it without you.”


FORWARD OPERATING BASE ZEEBRUGGE, Afghanistan – The fallen Marine was remembered as a comic relief by many of his friends, but as Marines and sailors gathered for his memorial service, there was no laughter. The sun shined brightly against the mountain where the Marines of Golf Battery, 2nd Battalion, 11th Marine Regiment, remembered the life of Cpl. Conner T. Lowry, who served as a fire team leader, designated marksman, and ammunition technician chief.

Dozens of Marines, sailors, and civilians paid respects to Lowry, who passed away, March 1, 2012. The ceremony included the posting of a memorial shrine consisting of Lowry’s boots, rifle, helmet, and identification “dog” tags. Maj. Gen. David H. Berger, the Task Force Leatherneck commanding general, and Sgt. Maj. Terry L. Jones, the Task Force Leatherneck sergeant major, attended the ceremony. The crowd was silent, and there was not much noise except from airplanes flying and birds chirping. Marine sentries stood on guard and watched over the ceremony.

Lowry extended his enlistment to deploy here at the northernmost frontier for the Marines in Helmand province, said Cpl. Roger W. Malcolm, a close friend of Lowry who served with him for nearly four years at Golf Battery, 2nd Bn., 11th Marines. Malcolm, a team leader and fire direction controlman, said the former battalion commander told them that they were deploying to Kajaki and it would be a dangerous mission. Their hands shot up immediately.

If you think of my son Conner Lowry in the future, please recall him as a mirror image of the Beverly community that helped shape him: generous, humorous, playful and passionate.

He was killed in action in Afghanistan on March 1, and Conner Lowry’s legacy begins now and will be nurtured by you, my fellow community members. My wish in Conner’s memory is for the core strength of this community to continue its resolve to nurture all the Conner Lowrys who will continue to call Beverly their home as they enter the world to make it a better place.

The other Conner Lowrys will go forth with different names and not meet untimely deaths. And in line with my wish, they will exhibit the heart, soul and character unique to our brilliant community.

In my grief, the world swirled. Lost in my walking nightmare were the gestures and actions I know were there to support all the Lavins, Whealans and Lowrys and all of Conner’s friends. What I couldn’t see through the haze, I could feel in my heart.

You, the community members, need to hear what visitors to our neighborhood expressed as they witnessed—for the first time—an unparalleled outpouring of concern so intense it lined the streets, enveloped our hearts and soothed our souls.

“When I retire from the service, I am moving right here to Beverly,” said one young man.

Others agreed.

Please, my fellow community members, absorb the compliment, and accept from me and my family our thanks and gratitude for lifting us up in our time of greatest need.

There is great peril and flaw in attempting to thank everyone who reached out. Listing those who deserve thanks remains a daunting task because someone will be left out. Please know that the hug in the grocery store is likely as meaningful as the flowers from far-away places; there’s no weighing one over another.

That said, I will attempt to thank and recognize those who I can remember. You others, please know, you are in our hearts and forever linked in our sweet memories of Conner.

Thanks to the masses who donned the “Conner’s Parade” T-shirts.

Special appreciation from all of us goes to Mike Heeney and Heeney-Laughlin Funeral Home, the U.S. Marine Corps, the Patriot Guard, the Windy City Veterans, all the coordination efforts of Vietnam veteran Neil Maas, the St. John Fisher parish, church and family, the Chicago Police Marine Corps League and its thoughtful donation of $25,000 to the Br. Rice High School Scholarship Fund in Conner’s name, the Br. Rice community, the gracious and classy members of the Chicago media, the Moran Family, Mother McAuley High School, Beth O’Rourke and Marathon Sportswear, the South Side Irish St. Patrick’s Day Parade Committee, Conner’s Washtenaw Family and The Rhino Bar.

Lastly, I’d like to thank Sgt. Jacob Harrer of the 1st Marine Division for his touching insight found in his article about Conner at the Web site at