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Challis Lowe

Corporate executive Challis Lowe was born on July 21, 1945 in Chicago, Illinois to Clotilde Waller and Abner Waller. She graduated from Parker High School in 1962, and received her B.A. degree in communications from Southern Illinois University Carbondale in 1966. She later earned her M.B.A. degree in finance from Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management University in 1978.

Lowe began her career at the Continental Illinois National Bank and Trust Company of Chicago. In 1972, she was named the first African American female vice president of the Continental Bank, at the time, the fifth largest bank in the U.S. She was senior vice president of Illinois Leasing Corporation, a subsidiary focused on domestic lease and debt financing transactions, when Continental Bank sold this business unit to Sanwa Bank, Ltd. of Japan in 1984. Lowe remained in Chicago as senior vice president of administrative services for the newly formed Sanwa Business Credit Corporation. In 1993, she became the executive vice president of human resources for the Walter E. Heller International Corporation. In 1997, Lowe moved into a similar role at the Beneficial Corporation, then the nation’s second largest consumer finance company. When Beneficial merged with Household International, Inc. in 1998, Lowe served as a consultant. In 2000, she moved to Florida, where she worked as the executive vice president of human resources, corporate communications and public affairs for Ryder System, Inc. Four years later, Lowe was hired as executive vice president of human resources of Dollar General where she remained until the acquisition of Dollar General by KKR & Co. L.P., a private equity company. In 2009, Lowe was recruited to serve as the senior vice president of organization development and human resources for Ascension Health, Inc., a position she held until her retirement in 2013.

In 1997, Lowe joined the Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation board as a financial specialist to chair its newly formed Investment Committee; and in 2000, she became a trustee of the Kenwood Growth and Income Fund in Chicago. Upon relocating to Florida, she served on the Florida Memorial College Board of Directors in 2001, and the Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University Board of Trustees in 2003, which she later chaired. In 2005, Lowe was elected as a board member and treasurer of the Executive Leadership Council. Lowe joined the Fisk University Board of Trustees in 2013, and was named to the board of directors of the Seaway Bank and Trust Company in 2014. In 2016, Lowe was named to the board of Catholic Health Initiatives where she chaired the Retirement Committee and served on its Audit Committee.

Challis Lowe was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on June 30, 2018.

Accession Number

A2018.138

Sex

Female

Interview Date

6/30/2018

4/11/2019

Last Name

Lowe

Maker Category
Occupation
Schools

Park Manor Elementary School

Charles S. Deneen Elementary School

Francis W. Parker High School

University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign

Southern Illinois University

Northwestern University

First Name

Challis

Birth City, State, Country

Chicago

HM ID

LOW07

Favorite Season

Fall

State

Illinois

Favorite Vacation Destination

South Africa, China, and Paris

Favorite Quote

Just Do It

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

New York

Birth Date

7/21/1945

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

New York

Country

USA

Favorite Food

Vegetables

Short Description

Corporate executive Challis Lowe (1945 - ) held various executive administrative positions at Walter E. Heller International Corporation, the Beneficial Corporation, Ryder System, Inc., the Dollar General Corporation, and Ascension Health, Inc.

Employment

Continental Illinois Leasing Corporation and Continental Illinois National Bank and Trust Company of Chicago

Sanwa Business Credit Corporation

Walter E. Heller International Corporation

Beneficial Corporation

Ryder System, Inc.

Dollar General Corporation

Ascension Health, Inc.

Favorite Color

Red

Gen. Julius Becton, Jr.

Military Officer and federal government administrator Julius W. Becton, Jr. was born on June 29, 1926 in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania to Julius Wesley and Rose Banks Becton. He joined the Army Air Corps in July 1944 and graduated from Infantry Officer Candidate School in 1945. While on active duty, Becton graduated from Prairie View A & M College in 1960 with his B.S. degree in mathematics and the University of Maryland in 1966 with his M.A. degree in economics. He is also a graduate of the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College, the Armed Forces Staff College and the National War College. Post his military service, Becton has received honorary doctorate degrees from Huston-Tillotson College, Muhlenberg College, Prairie View A & M University, The Citadel, Dickinson College, and American Public University System.

Becton joined the 93rd Infanry Division in the Pacific at the end of World War II and was separated from the Army in 1946, but returned to active duty after President Harry S. Truman issued Executive Order 9981 to desegregate the military in 1948. Rising to the rank of Lieutenant General in 1978 he commanded the 1st Cavalry Division, the United States Army Operations Test and Evaluation Agency, and the VII Corps – the Army’s largest combat corps in Europe during the Cold War. Becton also served in the Korean War and the Vietnam War, and retired from the U.S. Army in 1983 after nearly 40 years of service. However, his public service career was far from over.

From 1984 to 1985, he served as the director of the Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance in the United States Agency for International Development. He then served as the third director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency from 1985 to 1989 under President Ronald Reagan. In his mid-sixties, Becton began a new career, that of education administrator. From 1989 to 1994, he was the fifth president of Prairie View A & M University, his alma mater – becoming the first graduate of Prairie View A & M University to attain flag rank in the military. In 1996, he became the superintendent of the Washington, D.C. public school system.

Among his decorations are the Distinguished Service Medal, two Silver Stars, two Legion of Merit medals and two Purple Hearts, along with the Knight Commander’s Cross of the Order of Merit of Germany. Becton married to Louise Thornton, and they have five children: Shirley, Karen, Joyce, Renee, and Wesley. They also have eleven grandchildren and three great grandchildren

Julius W. Becton, Jr. was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on August 27, 2012.

Accession Number

A2012.227

Sex

Male

Interview Date

8/27/2012

2/14/2013

Last Name

Becton

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

Wesley

Occupation
Schools

Army Command and General Staff College

University of Maryland

Lower Merion High School

Officer Candidate School

Muhlenberg College

National War College

Joint Forces Staff College

Bryn Mawr Elementary School

Lower Merion Junior High School

Prairie View A&M University

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Julius

Birth City, State, Country

Bryn Mawr

HM ID

BEC02

Favorite Season

Fall

State

Pennsylvania

Favorite Vacation Destination

Aruba

Favorite Quote

Get it done.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

District of Columbia

Interview Description
Birth Date

6/29/1926

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Washington

Country

USA

Favorite Food

Liver, Onions, Baked Beans, Cole Slaw

Short Description

Military officer Gen. Julius Becton, Jr. (1926 - ) , was a retired Lieutenant General and the first African American officer to command a Corps in the U.S. Army (VII U.S. Corps).

Employment

United States Army

United States Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance

Federal Emergency Management Agency

Prairie View A&M University

District of Columbia Public Schools

Favorite Color

Cavalry Yellow

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Julius Becton's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Julius Becton lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Julius Becton describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Julius Becton talks about his mother, Rose Inez Banks

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Julius Becton describes his father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Julius Becton talks about his father, and his strong work ethic

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Julius Becton talks about his family's involvement in the church

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Julius Becton talks about his brother, and how his parents met

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Julius Becton describes his parents' personalities and who he takes after

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Julius Becton describes his earliest childhood memory

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Julius Becton talks about growing up in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Julius Becton talks about his father's job in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Julius Becton talks about his father being his role model

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Julius Becton talks about growing up with undertones of racial segregation in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Julius Becton describes the sights, sounds and smells of growing up

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Julius Becton talks about his family's visits to North Carolina

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Julius Becton describes his experience in elementary school

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Julius Becton talks about his brother, Joseph William Becton

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Julius Becton talks about studying mathematics in college

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Julius Becton talks about his teachers in elementary school, and his progress to high school

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Julius Becton talks about his childhood jobs, and his father's income

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Julius Becton talks about his involvement with Saints Memorial Baptist Church since his childhood

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Julius Becton talks about his involvement in sports while growing up

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Julius Becton talks about how he met his wife

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Julius Becton talks about joining the Civil Air Patrol in 1941, becoming eligible for flight school, and turning it down to command a unit

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Julius Becton talks about his father's political affiliation and his decision to enroll at Muhlenberg College

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Julius Becton talks about joining the Civil Air Patrol in 1941 and the Army Air Corp Enlisted Reserve in 1943

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Julius Becton talks about others who graduated from his high school, and his desire to join the Army Air Corps

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Julius Becton talks about attending Officer Candidate School in 1944

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Julius Becton reflects upon his experience with segregation in the South in the 1940s, and the changes that have occurred since then

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Julius Becton talks about his experience in the U.S. Army while stationed in the Philippines

Tape: 3 Story: 11 - Julius Becton talks about his separation from the U.S. Army in 1946, joining Muhlenberg College on a football scholarship, and getting injured there

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Julius Becton talks about playing football at Muhlenberg College, as a center on offense and a linebacker on defense

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Julius Becton talks about getting married in 1948

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Julius Becton talks about returning to the U.S. Army in 1948, and his parents' support of him financially

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Julius Becton describes his experience in the Korean War

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Julius Becton describes how his unit, the 9th Infantry Regiment, Second Division, was integrated in the midst of the Korean War, pt. 1

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Julius Becton describes how his unit, the 9th Infantry Regiment, Second Division, was integrated in the midst of the Korean War, pt. 2

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Julius Becton talks about his return to the U.S. from the Korean War in 1951

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Julius Becton talks about his assignments after returning from the Korean War in 1951

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Julius Becton talks about going to Prairie View A&M University as an assistant professor of military science and to complete his degree

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Julius Becton describes his experience on tour in Germany

Tape: 4 Story: 11 - Julius Becton describes his success on tour in Germany, and how he was able to attend the Commander and General Staff College (CGSC)

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Julius Becton describes his experience at Prairie View A&M University

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Julius Becton describes his experience at Command General Staff College (CGSC) at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Julius Becton describes his assignment in France

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Julius Becton talks about his experience at the Armed Forces Staff College and the challenges to finding a house for his family in Virginia

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Julius Becton talks about earning his master's degree in economics

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Julius Becton describes how he was assigned to join the U.S. Army in Vietnam

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Julius Becton describes his experience in the U.S. Army in Vietnam

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Julius Becton reflects upon the Vietnam War

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Julius Becton discusses race relations in the U.S. Army during the Vietnam War

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Julius Becton discusses his thirteen-point management philosophy in terms of commanding troops

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Julius Becton talks about his service in the Vietnam War and the get-togethers of his command staff

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Julius Becton describes how General Colin Powell was selected to attend the National War College in 1975

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Julius Becton talks about his training at the National War College

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Julius Becton talks about his assignment as the brigade commander of the 2nd Brigade, Second Armor Division in Fort Hood, Texas

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Julius Becton discusses trends in the number of women and their roles in the military between the 1970s and 2012

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Julius Becton talks about his selection and experience as the Branch Chief of Armor and being promoted to the rank of brigadier general in 1972

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Julius Becton describes his experience as deputy commander at Fort Dix, New Jersey

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Julius Becton describes his experience as a division commander at Fort Hood, Texas, pt. 1

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Julius Becton describes his experience as a division commander at Fort Hood, Texas, pt. 2

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Julius Becton talks about mentoring in the U.S. Army

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Julius Becton talks about his service as the commander of the Operational Test and Evaluation Agency (OTEA)

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Julius Becton talks about being recognized as one of the '100 Most Influential Blacks' by Ebony Magazine

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Julius Becton describes his experience as the commander of the U.S. VII Corps stationed in Cold War Europe

Tape: 7 Story: 8 - Julius Becton talks about his appointments as Deputy Commander of Training for TRADOC and as the Army Inspector of Training

Tape: 7 Story: 9 - Julius Becton describes his decision to accept the position of Director of the Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance at U.S. AID

Tape: 7 Story: 10 - Julius Becton talks about becoming the director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)

Tape: 10 Story: 1 - Julius Becton talks about his former colleague, educator Arlene Ackerman

Tape: 10 Story: 2 - Julius Becton reflects upon the crisis in urban education in the U.S.

Tape: 10 Story: 3 - Julius Becton describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 10 Story: 4 - Julius Becton discusses the crisis in today's community regarding physical and behavioral health

Tape: 10 Story: 5 - Julius Becton discusses the prospects for young people who are interested in joining the military

Tape: 10 Story: 6 - Julius Becton reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 10 Story: 7 - Julius Becton talks about his family

Tape: 10 Story: 8 - Julius Becton talks about receiving the George Catlett Marshall Medal in 2007

Tape: 10 Story: 9 - Julius Becton talks about the gathering of African American Flag Officers and being honored by the Buffalo Soldiers

Tape: 10 Story: 10 - Julius Becton talks about his autobiography, 'Becton: Autobiography of a Soldier and Public Servant'

Tape: 8 Story: 1 - Slating of Julius Becton's interview, pt. 2

Tape: 8 Story: 2 - Julius Becton's describes the ceremony honoring his retirement from the U.S. Army in 1983

Tape: 8 Story: 3 - Julius Becton's reflects upon the changes in the status of African American soldiers and women in the U.S. Army

Tape: 8 Story: 4 - Julius Becton reflects upon the U.S. Military's repeal of the "Don't ask, don't tell" policy

Tape: 8 Story: 5 - Julius Becton describes his service as the director of the Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance in the USAID

Tape: 8 Story: 6 - Julius Becton describes his experience as the director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), pt. 1

Tape: 8 Story: 7 - Julius Becton talks about the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) since his service there, and discusses the role of FEMA

Tape: 8 Story: 8 - Julius Becton talks about Lieutenant General Russel Honore's service towards disaster relief in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina

Tape: 8 Story: 9 - Julius Becton describes his experience as the director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), pt. 2

Tape: 8 Story: 10 - Julius Becton talks about becoming the president of Prairie View A&M University in 1989

Tape: 9 Story: 1 - Julius Becton describes his selection as the president of Prairie View A and M University

Tape: 9 Story: 2 - Julius Becton describes his experience as the president of Prairie View A and M University

Tape: 9 Story: 3 - Julius Becton discusses the reputation of Prairie View A and M University

Tape: 9 Story: 4 - Julius Becton describes how he became the superintendent of the Washington, District of Columbia public school system in 1996

Tape: 9 Story: 5 - Julius Becton discusses the challenges faced by the Washington, District of Columbia public school system

Tape: 9 Story: 6 - Julius Becton describes his experience as the superintendent of the Washington, District of Columbia public school system, pt. 1

Tape: 9 Story: 7 - Julius Becton describes his experience as the superintendent of the Washington, District of Columbia public school system, pt. 2

Tape: 9 Story: 8 - Julius Becton talks about the challenges that are faced by the public school system in Washington, District of Columbia

Tape: 9 Story: 9 - Julius Becton describes his life after retiring as the superintendent of the public school system in Washington, District of Columbia

Tape: 11 Story: 1 - Julius Becton talks about his relative, HistoryMaker Thelma Groomes

Tape: 11 Story: 2 - Julius Becton reflects upon his life and career, pt. 1

Tape: 11 Story: 3 - Julius Becton reflects upon his life and career, pt. 2

Tape: 11 Story: 4 - Julius Becton talks about his parents

Tape: 11 Story: 5 - Julius Becton talks about how he would like to be remembered

Tape: 11 Story: 6 - Julius Becton describes his photographs

DASession

1$2

DATape

10$9

DAStory

8$1

DATitle
Julius Becton talks about receiving the George Catlett Marshall Medal in 2007
Julius Becton describes his selection as the president of Prairie View A and M University
Transcript
Let me just point out that, now, you received the George Catlett Marshall Medal in 2007--$$2007.$$Right, yeah. Now, this is, now, tell us the significance of that medal?$$Well, the Association of the United States Army, AUSA, provides, they give an award in the name of General Marshall, "Marshall" being the former Chief of Staff of the Army, also former Secretary of State and a few other things. It's the highest award they have. And I'm very fortunate to have been selected for that. Some of the other award recipients, well, Jim Baker was just last year, the former Chief of Staff to Reagan [President Ronald Reagan]. He was also his Secretary of State and so forth. Colin Powell [General Colin Powell; former Secretary of State] is a recipient of that, and they have a long list of solid citizens. I was--it was rather amusing how I got that award. I mean I got aware of it. I was a trustee in the Association of the United States Army and Vice Superintendent, Vice Chancellor. At a meeting for the association's Council of Trustees, the meeting got started, and the chairman of the board, Nick Chapra (ph.), Nick, who at that time was the Chairman of the Board and CEO at General Dynamics, convened the meeting and then said, "Julius, would you mind stepping out for a minute?" Why? Because I said so. Yes, sir. I go out, came right back in five minutes. And he had just announced to the board that the committee had recommended Julius Becton to become the Marshall recipient in 2007. And you could have knocked me over with a feather. I think you have some pictures in that folder of the group, of the family appearing for that presentation.$All right, so we're on a cliffhanger, and you found out why that you were selected [as the president of Prairie View A&M University, Texas]--$$Yes, I found out why the board selected me. The Board of Regents is like the Board of Trustees or Board of Directors of any institution. It's made up of, in Texas, all graduates of Texas A&M [University]. They are appointed by the governor, and all the [U.S.] Army officers, retired, National Guard, but not active. And they were looking for a "butt kicker," not an academician, their term, not mine. And the other person was an academician. And so, I got unanimous selection and went up to the campus. And I should have known this before I got there, but I didn't. Another reason that they were in dire straits, the Texas legislature had said in writing that Prairie View, you get your acts together and deal with your funding or we will put a conservator in. And that was my welcoming to the Prairie View A and M University.$$Okay, now, how did you feel about that? You're being hired as a "butt kicker." Did you wind your foot up and get ready or did you say wait a minute. What's going on?$$No, I, having been a student at the institution, albeit a non-traditional student because I was in ROTC [Reserve Officers' Training Corps] duty as a major--captain, excuse me. But I knew about a third of the staff and faculty, which I felt was pretty good, a good going in. And I found out quickly that there were about three different groups of people, particularly, staff and administration, about 20, 25 percent, "We don't want a soldier coming in here as the president." And on the other side of that 20, 25 percent, "We know Becton. He's just the right person for it. He'll do a good job here." And that group in the middle did not know me and are waiting, take a look, let's see what he's gonna do. And they had rumors that we're gonna start having reveille, we're gonna start wearing combat boots. We're gonna start saluting, all those idiotic things that people come up with on campuses.