Community gives final salute to Chicago Marine

March 10, 2012 3:15:37 PM PST
Friends, family and a community gathered Saturday to say goodbye to a Chicago Marine.

Cpl. Conner Lowry was killed in Afghanistan last week and Saturday's funeral mass was at the South Side church in which he grew up.

"He's a great human being," said friend Tim Stathis. "The whole community loved him more than anyone knows really."

The streets of the Beverly community were lined with friends, neighbors, as well as strangers as more than 1,500 mourners packed St. John Fisher Church for the fallen marine's funeral mass, which was presided over by Lowry's uncle, who flew in from Washington D.C. for the service.

"I'm filled with sorrow certainly, but gratitude that in those 24 years, he packed in a lot of life," said the Rev. Quinn Conners.

The Department of Defense says the Marine perished March 1 while conducting combat operations in Afghanistan's Helmand Province. It was his second tour.

He was scheduled to return home in just three months. That's when he wanted to begin a career as a Chicago firefighter.

Although, Marine Corps officials confirm his death is still under investigation, Lowry's life was celebrated Saturday by those who knew him best.

His sister, Grace Lavin, told those in attendance, her brother was committed to serving others.

"Conner, I love you so much," she said. "You mean the world to me. You have always been my role model and my hero."

Inside the church, Lowry's flag-draped casket remained at the front of the sanctuary as the many accomplishments he made during his short life were remembered.

Lowry made an impression with his smile and personality no matter where he went.

He loved sports and played football at Brother Rice. He attended college but left in 2008 to join the Marines, where he was an ammunition technician.

A family and a community vowed never to forget him.

"We will miss you greatly," said his brother, Brian Lavin, "You will be in our hearts forever."

On Sunday, there will be more honors for the fallen Marine. Lowry's mother will cut the ribbon for the South Side Irish St. Patrick's Day parade.

Conner's friends will also march with the grand marshal. They say they will be representing his spirit and memory.