Former Washington Gov. Mike Lowry remembered as proud liberal, quietly generous

Hundreds, including Gov. Jay Inslee and a host of other current and former elected officials, gathered for the memorial at the Renton church where Lowry was a congregant and where he volunteered for tasks from raking leaves to washing laundry for homeless men.

He was the quintessential gregarious politician with orange yard signs people joked could be seen from space.

But former governor and congressman Mike Lowry, who died May 1 at age 78, also was remembered at a memorial service Tuesday for humility and a constant desire to deflect credit to others.

Hundreds, including Gov. Jay Inslee and a host of other current and former elected officials, gathered to pay tribute at St. Matthew’s Lutheran Church in Renton, where Lowry was a congregant and volunteered for tasks from raking leaves to washing laundry for homeless men.

Pastor Kacey Hahn recalled Lowry as “by far, the most extroverted man I’ve ever met,” and compared him to a “louder, more passionate, maybe more arm-waving St. Francis of Assisi.”

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Throughout his political career, Lowry was known as a proud liberal Democrat whose views were clear, and who relished sharing them — accompanied by expressive hand gestures — with just about anyone who wanted to listen.

It was hardly an exaggeration to say “if there were two or more people on a street corner, Mike would want to stop and give a speech,” said Mark Brown, a longtime aide and friend.

Lowry was first elected to the King County Council in 1975 and to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1978, representing the Seattle area’s 7th Congressional District for a decade. He served a single term as governor, from 1993 to 1997, declining to run for a second term amid allegations of sexual harassment.

When he served in Congress, Lowry held frequent town-hall meetings to hear directly from constituents in his district — a contrast with some representatives

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