Memories of Hope


Howard Loewenstein founded the Gwinnett Sierra Club's program to plant trees.

Howard Loewenstein

Howard Loewenstein, 70, environmentalist
Derrick Henry, Staff

After a long career as a civil engineer on Long Island, Howard Loewenstein moved to Stone Mountain in 1989 to be close to his two daughters. But he kept so busy volunteering he hardly had time to see them.

“He was not a man to sit idle,” said his daughter, Lisa Loewenstein of Norcross.

Mr. Loewenstein founded the Gwinnett Sierra Club’s program to plant trees on medians and roadside slopes threatened by erosion. He managed the design and installation of the pond garden at the Scottish Rite Children’s Hospital, a project of the National Pond Society.

For the Senior University of Greater Atlanta, he organized bus trips and cruises. And he took his beloved golden retriever Chammy to cheer up nursing home residents.

“Howard was a unique human being, always dreaming up ways of making things better,” said his friend Jack Wagner of Dunwoody.

“He would do anything if he thought it could help people,” said Dianne Loewenstein, his wife of 42 years.

Howard Walter Loewenstein, 70, died of leukemia Friday at Northside Hospital. The funeral is 11a.m. today at H.M. Patterson & Son, Arlington Chapel.

The Brooklyn native served in the Army’s engineering corps from 1954-56, rising to the rank of first lieutenant. He then embarked on a career designing highways and airports in the United States and Malaysia. His company, R. Dixon Speas, was among the first to work with computers. “Dad worked on computers when they were the size of your living room.,” said his daughter.

Perhaps his greatest passion was planting trees. Each spring, Mr. Loewenstein would assemble 2,000 or more saplings, including dogwoods and red maples plus crape myrtles, and work with the Gwinnett Department of Transportation to determine where to plant them. “He provided inspirational leadership for years and years to our volunteers,” said Curt Smith of Decatur, the chair of the Gwinnett group of the Sierra Club.

Mr. Loewenstein was both modest and realistic about his accomplishments. “What we plant here is not a drop in the bucket, but a drop in the ocean compared to what has been cut down,” he said in a 1997 article in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

When he wasn’t volunteering, Mr. Loewenstein loved woodworking and other crafts. He built wooden birdhouses and planters made of scrap material, including sewer pipe. “He could take anything and make it beautiful and useful,” said his daughter.

Every New Year’s Day and Fourth of July, Mr. Loewenstein hosted a lavish party at his lakefront house. “He was the consummate host, concerned with everyone’s welfare,” said Bernie Goldstein of Buckhead, president of the Senior University of Atlanta. Mr. Loewenstein donated his brain to the Autism Tissue Program.

Additional Survivors include another daughter, Rhonda Levan of Norcross: a son, Craig Loewenstein of Sterling, VA: and two granddaughters. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations to the National Alliance for Autism Research (www.naar.org), 414 Wall Street, Princeton, NJ 08540