Maynard (Mike) Eugene Loewen
1925 - 2012
Mike Lowen, an amateur musician noted for his singing groups, was known primarily for his work as a men's residence hall dean at two Seventh-day Adventist academies and two colleges, Washington Missionary College, now Washington Adventist University, and Walla Walla College, now University.
Mike was born in LaCrosse, Kansas, one of three children of George and Emma Loewen. He attended Sheyenne River Academy in North Dakota and Union College in Lincoln, Nebraska. Following graduation from UC, he returned to SRA as dean of men and then accepted a position at Lodi Academy in 1949.
He subsequently served as dean of men at WMC and WWC, the latter from 1961 to 1987, when he retired. From his earliest years he enjoyed music and while at WMC organized a men's chorus known as the Hill Toppers, who met on Friday evenings on a regular basis and occasionally sang in meetings. When he accepted the deanship at WWC, he established the Messengers, initially a male chorus or quartet that eventually on occasion also included women.
In an interview in 1991, he spoke about the group's name, extensive touring, and choice of repertoire:
The Messengers was named after a mission boat in Alaska. Originally we sang pretty much on campus and in the immediate area, since the music department controlled what groups would tour for the school. This changed after the faculty handbook was revised to allow other groups to tour.
We started touring in the summers in about 1973, performing at all the camp meetings in the North Pacific Union and Northern California. We also toured in Alaska nearly every year, went to Hawaii twice, and, in 1983, went to a youth congress in Finland for two weeks. We learned five songs in the Finnish language for that trip.
We just did the good old gospel songs, avoiding the contemporary Christian music of the 1970s. We didn't learn any secular music except Happy Birthday, which they sang to me at nearly every restaurant we stopped at. They sang it so often I felt like Methuselah.
Our theme or motto was to uplift Christ. When I organized the group, I wanted it to be a bridge between the campus and the church, to let the churches know that the young people of the present were still as dedicated as they had been when they were in college. I always picked songs for the message, because the music generally took care of itself.
Loewen was living in Spokane, Washington, at the time of his death, at age 86.
Sources: Obituary, Walla Walla Union-Bulletin, 23 May 2012, A5; Interview, 13 June 1991; Personal Knowledge.