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A Marine Corps Mom's Love for a Son Lost to Combat

Modie Lavin's journey through life changed when her son was killed in Afghanistan. She now runs a memorial fund and works with veterans in Chicago. Sponsored by Grape-Nuts.

Live Life Large — those three words sum up the life of U.S. Marine Cpl. Conner Lowry, who spent every day making sure he lived by those words. 

The lifelong Beverly resident’s life was cut short when, at 24, he was killed in combat while serving with the 2nd Battalion, 11th Marine Regiment in Afghanistan. His mother, in her son’s honor, www.connertlowrymemorialfund.com, so his life will always be remembered. 

"I was a self-employed decorative artist for 17 years. I retired my business after the passing of my son," says Lavin. "I took a full time position with the Chicago Park District implementing programs geared to the veterans community in Chicago."

Q. What’s the biggest challenge you’ve taken on?

A. I started the Conner T. Lowry Memorial Fund based on a text I received from my son while he was serving in Afghanistan. He said in the text if something ever happened to him in Afghanistan, he wanted a memorial in his name in Beverly Park. Conner spent many years at the park playing sports and just hanging out there with his friends. Conner also wanted money donated to St. John Fisher, where he went to grade school. The goal for the memorial fund is to provide scholarships for 8th grade students at St. John Fisher and to keep up the grounds surrounding his memorial statue in Beverly Park.

Q. What inspired you to take this challenge?

A. My son inspired me to start the fund for the love of his grammar school and his love and passion for Beverly Park, where he grew up playing all sports. I achieved this goal by starting the website, and Conner’s friends have started the Conner T. Lowry Memorial Golf outing to be held every year in August or September. Last year’s golf outing was quite successful and hope it will be this year as well.

Q. What accounts for your success?

A. I have succeeded thus far by the generosity of so many. I know that continual support by donations will allow me to continue with scholarships for many years to keep Conner’s memory alive, along with recognition for all our veterans who fought for our freedom.

Mom Shares a Story About Her Son

Modie Lavin wanted to share a part of Conner’s life. She sent Patch part of Conner’s eulogy told by one of his best friends, Mike Roche.

"It’s hard to pinpoint a few stories that highlight the life of Conner, we could go on for days. There’s no telling which one of his notorious one-liners, practical jokes were the funniest. If Modie has ever painted your house, you would know she often painted the motto "Live, Love, Laugh" on many walls. Well, Conner came up with his own motto, LIVE LIFE LARGE. And boy did he ever. Before he went to Marine Corps boot camp in California, Conner decided to check in a 5-star resort in Scottsdale, AZ, and invite all his friends. Upon our arrival he made us all put on complimentary bathrobes. As more people showed up, he would call down to the front desk and request more robes. He demanded that if you were staying in his room, you 'must have a robe on.' When Conner called down to make these requests, the front desk referred to him as "Mr. Lowry." He thought it was hilarious and insisted he be called 'Mr. Lowry' for the next 48 hours. Whether it was to run across the street to buy more beer or for anything else we needed. He made bellboys run for his own entertainment. It was no surprise that his last weekend before entering the Marine Corps he Lived Life Large."

Lowry's decorations include the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal, Combat Action Ribbon, Good Conduct Service Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal with bronze star and Humanitarian Service Medal.

Today, Conner’s family and friends wear green bracelets with his three favorite words.

This story is posted throughout the Chicago-area Patch network.

Matt May 05, 2013 at 01:45 PM
Modie, you are truly an inspiration for us all. Conner is a true American hero. I am glad to see your story in the Lake Forest Patch. We have the blessing of living in the greatest Country in history because of Connor's service. Modie, you and the rest of the Lavin family make us all of proud. Connor represents the best the south side has ever produced and makes all us North Shore transplants proud. God continue to comfort you and your family and give you the strength to continue all the great work you are doing with Connor by your side. Matt, the son of your late friend Donna K.
Lawrence Grumboski May 05, 2013 at 01:52 PM
All gave some, some gave all! Semper Fi
Peter Allan Lehner May 06, 2013 at 12:21 AM
Semper fi modie. Cpl. USMC. Iraq war vet 04-07. Im sorry for your loss, your a true inspiration. Ooorah
K-Stu May 07, 2013 at 01:48 AM
Wonderful story. Commer sounds like he was an awesome man and marine.
lindy May 29, 2013 at 10:04 AM
Men, or more specifically, politicians will never understand all the sacrifices made during pregnancy and afterwards for our children. And it is so unfortunate for women to have the ability to create life, and men to take advantage of that and/or destroy it through war. Why do I get the impression that men take the ability to create life with a grain of salt? The only solution I can think of to prevent situations like this is to advise your children against joining the service. Is it not suicide? It's not unpatriotic to be unsupportive of enlisting in the military; it's actually a completely logical thinking process for SURVIVAL. If "war" absolutely needs to happen for "protection" (the only way men know how to protect and resolve issues- through uncivilized caveman violence), extend the enlistment to adults resulting of foster care and/or criminals. Otherwise, we, as women, are enablers and supporters for this relentlessly inconsiderate, seemingly sole "method" of protection. If it hasn't become clear to you by now, I'll let you in on the secret: it's a population control method. Wars randomly started by the U.S. for no reason, the U.S. troops staying overseas despite the obvious declaration of no longer threatening (to the U.S.) circumstances, etc. Break out of your in-the-box mindset. You'll have forever to think that way when you're lying in your coffin.

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