The Computer Genealogy Society of San Diego meets on the 3rd Saturday of each month (except December) from 9:00 a.m. to noon on the campus of UCSD, University of California, San Diego.

Visit our website for more information and driving directions.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Tribute to Joan Lowrey

I feel compelled to say a few words about Joan Lowrey. This is not an obituary or a remembrance, for Joan Lowrey is very much alive and active as a genealogy researcher. However, with the dissolution of the Computer Genealogy Society of San Diego and its absorption into the San Diego Genealogy Society, it seems appropriate to give Joan Neumann Lowrey due credit for the contribution she has made to genealogy in San Diego and the many people she has touched.

Joan has been involved with computers before there were computers as we know them now. With a BA in Mathematics, she programmed early analog military computers and was involved in several high tech companies in San Diego.

But it's as a researcher and teacher that we know her best.  She became interested in her family's heritage and used her computer skills to augment her research talents. She researched the genealogies for others, particularly those with German ancestry like hers.

Joan wrote a user's guide for several versions of the early genealogy program Personal Ancestral File in the early 1990s and, together with Donna Przecha, wrote "Guide to Genealogy Software" in 1993. She organized many students of her PAF classes into a PAF user group that grew into the Computer Genealogy Society of San Diego, which she founded. She was a frequent speaker at national genealogy conferences in those days, promoting the use of computers for genealogy and reviewed utilities and other software useful for researchers.

Not only did Joan serve as President of CGSSD for many years, she edited the CompuGen newsletter, the forerunner of this blog. She wrote many important articles and reviews for the CompuGen and encouraged others to make contributions, often drawing them out of their comfort zone. She was also very involved with the Germany Research Association and served nationally on various boards and conferences.

One of her most enduring contributions to genealogy in San Diego was her monthly newsletter of genealogy happenings that included meeting notices of all the societies in the area. I helped her bring this newsletter to the Events section of the CGSSD website and this online presence continued until the San Diego Genealogical Council founded their Google calendar in 2013. Joan continues to promote cooperation among societies and family history centers and still speaks to various groups on German genealogy research, immigration, and genealogy programs.

I'm sure there's much more to say about Joan's genealogical contributions and you are welcome to add your comment here about your interaction with Joan. I have met many strong and smart women in my day, who like Joan, I consider a "force of nature." But Joan stands apart with her drive, her focussed vision and her commitment to excellence. Thanks, Joan, for enriching our genealogy experience.


  1. Gary Hoffman, Only you could say it that well. I have also known Joan Lowrey for more than 20 years. "Where did the time go?" Somehow I never realized she was a NEUMANN, that is a family name for my husband. Joan has been a true blessing to the Genealogical Community for all the things she has done. Thanks for the great write up about her. Susi Pentico

  2. Thank you, Gary, for this Tribute, and for your kind words. I usually have a lot to say, but for once I am speechless.

    With sincere appreciation,

  3. We all owe a great debt to Joan for her contributions to socities in San Diego, to genealogy research and technology in general, and in many specific ways for her tireless efforts to teach us all to be better researchers. I've enjoyed working with her for many years and count her as a very early inspiration in this field. Thanks, Joan!