A friend of a friend-Reba Millsaps Lowry and Ira Pate Lowry-March 23

One thing I have learned is that good friends have other good friends. This is a series of stories about “friends of my friends”. The post below is the story for March 23, 2015.

My goal in 2015 is to learn or get re-acquainted with 365 people and doing a daily post on the “the friend of a friend” is helping me get closer to my goal.

In 1977 I was moving to Pembroke, NC from Greenville, NC to accept a new job as Assistant Basketball Coach and Lecturer at UNC Pembroke. At that time the university was named Pembroke State University. I was going to be paid $10,000 a year so I needed to find a place to live that was affordable. In finding a place to live I got a landlord and man who treated me as a friend.

Joe Gallagher was the Head Coach and he took me around town and I met Ira Pate Lowry and his wife Reba Millsaps Lowry who lived directly across the street from the Pembroke Park and less than 50 yards from the southeast corner of campus. The Lowry’s were both retired faculty members at UNC Pembroke. At the time I met them Reba and Ira Pate were both 71 years old.

The Lowry’s lived in a brick house right on 3rd Street in town and had a two-story 4 unit apartment building located to the right of their house. Ira Pate made it clear that he only rented to Pembroke employees and was excited to hear that I worked at the college.

The deal even got better when I saw the unit was a two bedroom and was furnished. I was 23 years old and had no worldly possessions except clothes and a 1969 Ford Ranch Station wagon. I was concerned accepting the job that I was going to have to purchase a lot of furniture so the unit being furnished was the answer to my prayers. When I asked about the monthly rent Mr. Lowry said “Well they are paying you much so how about $90.00 a month”. I about dropped my jaw. I had a furnished apartment and I could walk to work. All of my colleagues referred to where I lived as Lowry Arms Apartments.

That price of $90.00 a month never changed during my three years as his tenant. My wife and I spent the first month of married life in that apartment. We left Pembroke about a month after we were married.

Mr. Lowry the three years I lived there had to take care of his wife who was not in good health. He was always helpful and he helped me learn about the Pembroke community. At my first commencement ceremony I also found out that Ira Pate and his wife wrote the music and lyrics to the UNC Pembroke Alma Mater.



The Friend of the Friend-REBA MILLSAPS LOWRY


Living a University Legacy

Reba Lowry told her husband Ira Pate that she liked me. I later found out that we were connected thru coaching. She was an instructor in the Foreign Language Department, advisor to The Indianhead, first Dean of Women, director of the Pembroke Players and women’s basketball coach. She was also the first woman to join the Chancellor’s Club. It was that coaching part that we had in common. Reba also penned the words to the UNCP Alma Mater “Hail to UNCP”.

Ira Pate Lowry, grew up in the Elrod community south of Pembroke, NC.  He organized and served as the chair of the Pembroke State Music Department from 1935-57. In 1954, he wrote the music to Hail to UNCP for the lyrics written by his wife. He left Pembroke State in 1957 and taught music at Pembroke Senior High School until his retirement in 1971.

The Lowry’s loved “the college” as they called it. When Reba died Ira Pate wanted to create a legacy gift to her. He came up with the idea of “the college” having a clock tower with carillon bells. The Lowry Bell Tower became that gift. It is located on the UNCP campus next to Old Main, and in the middle of The Quad. The Lowry Bell Tower has been a campus landmark since its dedication on May 10, 1981.



When I hear the bells ring or when I walk past the Lowry Bell Tower I think about my friend Ira Pate Lowry and the wife that he adored. The link below will take you to the UNC Pembroke Alma Mater “Hail to UNCP”


The apartment and house that Ira Pate and Reba owned in Pembroke are both gone. The former renter that they charged $90.00 a month to still remains at Pembroke. I appreciate both of them every time the Lowry Bell Tower chimes.


  1. Jonathan Entrekin · · Reply

    My name is Jonathan Pate Entrekin. Ira Pate and Reba were my grandparents. Thank you for your very touching write up. They were great people and very well loved in the town of Pembroke. I remember being there for the dedication of the bell tower, and interacting with a few of the renters in his apartments. The upstairs apartment closest to their house never had a renter because they left it for us when we would visit.

    1. Jonathan -Your Grandparents hold a special place in UNCP history. Just attended a funeral Sunday for Pauline Sellers Ransom. She was the nanny for Miss Reba children-your mom. Pauline was from Tennessee just like Reba. It is a small world. Glad you enjoyed the post.

  2. Barb Ransom · · Reply

    Mr. Ira Pate was my Grandmother’s younger brother. My Grandmother was the oldest in the family and was proud to be as a second mother to her younger brothers and sisters when her Mom died at a young age and her Dad re-married a few years afterward. Mr. Ira Pate came along from the second marriage. He was a wonderful Uncle to my Dad and Great Uncle for me… He was the person who introduced my parents to each other via his affiliation with Ohio St. University where he met my mother in the Music Dept. there and became friends with her. He invited her to Pembroke.. when she accepted she was embraced warmly by the local people and hired to teach in the Music Dept. ( at what was then Pembroke St. College) ..she subsequently was his successor as the Dept. Chair of the Music Dept. at UNCP….He and Mrs. Reba were fun..and fine people. We have very fond memories of not only their wonderful personalities but their enormous
    talent! .Thanks for sharing this article, it was very touching to our family and friends.

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