Lowell Dabbs

Lowell Parker Dabbs, a former English professor at Bakersfield College, died in Riverside, California this past Memorial Day, May 25, 2020. He was 95 years old. Lowell was a creative man with a poet’s heart and a commitment to “passing it along,” by which he meant helping others. He was born in Burlington, North Carolina in 1924 and as a boy earned the rank of Eagle Scout. In 1943, he joined the U.S. Navy V-12 College Training program, attending Arkansas A&M College and then Tulane University, in New Orleans. Ensign Dabbs was in the Pacific awaiting what he expected would be his role in the planned invasion of the Japanese mainland when the war ended. He was stationed in Japan until returning to the U.S. in late 1945. Lowell completed his bachelor’s degree and earned his master’s degree at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles in 1955. He then moved to Bakersfield to begin his career at Bakersfield College. Lowell taught English and literature, served as English Department chair, and was faculty editor for the magazine Campus Arts. He co-authored Modern English Practice and Improving College English Skills. He also wrote plays, poems, and professional articles. Lowell met his former wife, Phyllis Selby, at the college in 1955. She was a professor of speech and went on to serve as an administrator. They married in 1956 and welcomed a daughter in 1957. Since childhood, Lowell had resolved to design and build his own home. In the early 1960s, he followed through on that dream, building a home with his wife. The home was among those included in a September 2019 symposium and tour of notable mid-century modern structures in Bakersfield. Lowell and Phyllis enjoyed many years together in Bakersfield; they divorced in 1979. After retiring from BC in 1979, Lowell moved to Santa Barbara and tutored students in writing at Santa Barbara City College. He pursued a lifelong interest in photography and volunteered at the Braille Institute and other organizations. He enjoyed many friendships on the coast and was active in the Unitarian Society of Santa Barbara. Several of his plays and poems were produced or read locally. Lowell moved to an assisted living center in Riverside in 2014 to be near his daughter, Ellen Parker, and son-in-law, David Boyles. A reading of one of his short plays was performed by residents at the center, and he made many friends among the residents and staff. Lowell died at a Riverside hospital after contracting COVID-19 in mid-May while receiving care at a nursing home. There are no plans for a celebration of life at this time. For anyone who would like to do something in his honor, please “pass it along.”

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