Family escaped Nazi Germany in 1941

By Krista J. Stockman
The Journal Gazette


Frances Lowens lived to help others.

She helped those in need when she worked at the American Red Cross of Northeast Indiana. She helped her congregation by spending years translating minutes from German to English. And, now, in death, she will help medical students learn to become doctors by donating her body to Indiana University.

Lowens, a Holocaust survivor and longtime Fort Wayne resident, died Monday. She was 93.

Born in Cologne, Germany, in 1913, Lowens married her husband, Ernest, in 1938. Three years later the Jewish couple escaped Nazi Germany and came to the United States, their son Mark Lavie said.

“They managed to escape when almost no one was escaping anymore,â€? he said. His parents were able to stay hidden until their American visas came through. When they left, they were allowed to take only one suitcase and no pictures or family memorabilia. They left with their mothers waving from the front porch.

“Everyone knew what was going to happen to them,â€? Lavie said. “Most of the relatives on both sides perished in the Holocaust.â€?

Ernest and Frances Lowens didn’t want to live in a big city, so the agency they worked with sent them to Fort Wayne. They never left.

In 1957, Frances Lowens became a secretary for the Red Cross. Though she did not have a college education, she set up a service to assist military families. Through the service, families could receive counseling, housing assistance and food.

“Mostly, in her case, it was a sympathetic ear,â€? Lavie said. “She had a slight accent, and people would come into the Red Cross and ask for the French lady.â€?

Although his parents managed to escape, the Holocaust shaped their lives nonetheless.

“It contributed to my mother’s lifelong drive to help people who were less fortunate than she was,â€? Lavie said.

Donating her body to IU is just a continuation of that giving, he said.

“As Holocaust survivors, her and my father’s evaluation and vision of death is different than the rest of us,â€? Lavie said. “Death itself doesn’t mean a whole lot to them. They wanted to be remembered for how they lived as opposed to a gravestone somewhere.â€?

Lowens is survived by her sons, Mark and Stephen, two grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.