Modie Lavin said she was notified by the military Thursday that her son, Conner Lowry, 24, a graduate of St. John Fisher Elementary and Brother Rice High School, died in Afghanistan. Lavin said she hasn't been told exactly how her son died.
The Chicago Marine had been corresponding with students at his former elementary school, telling them what it's like to be at war. His family said he was a charming, caring guy and a true Marine.
Corporal Lowry, who's described as a South Side Irish guy through and through, joined the Marines a few years after high school in 2008. The 6'5", former football player wasn't actually sent to war in Afghanistan until October. That's when his neighbors put up yellow bows on the block. Lowry was supposed to come home for good, his family says, in two and a half months.
Lowry's family says his death is still under investigation. They are choosing not to talk about any details until the investigation is complete. They are still waiting to find out when his body will be brought back home.
Lowry's sister, Grace Lavin, held on tightly to her brother's favorite Notre Dame hat.
"How much I love him, how much I just wish this wasn't true and how much I just want to give him one last hug, because he gave really good hugs," she said.
"He truly was adored and this bigger-than-life boy who touched everybody because he was so funny and so good-hearted," said grandmother Anne Whealan.
As his family awaits for answers, they remember the 2006 Brother Rice alum as someone who captured a room with his magnetic personality.
"He was bigger than life. He was the mayor, you know, he would be coming home, and my sister would look out in the back yard, and there would be 400 people in the back yard four hours before his plane arrived," said aunt Jennifer Jepsen. "We were all convinced he was going to come home. We really, really were convinced he was going to come home."
"I've always aspired to be like him. I've always wanted to make him proud. I really want to do that from now on. He was always looking out for me, you know? He was my guardian and my hero," Grace Lavin said.