• 800-232-LOWE (5693)
  • info@lowe.org
  • 58220 Decatur Road, Cassopolis, MI 49031


a closer look at our founders

Edward Lowe

The founder of Kitty Litter, a simple product that sparked an entirely new industry, Ed Lowe distinguished himself not only for his business prowess, but also his initiatives to support entrepreneurship.

Born in 1920 in St. Paul, Minnesota, Ed grew up in Cass County, Michigan. After serving in the Navy, he joined his father’s company, which sold various commodities including industrial absorbents. Among these was a type of clay granule made from fuller’s earth. In 1947 Ed saw a new opportunity for these granules when a neighbor asked him for some sand to use in her cat’s litter box. Because of the cold weather, the woman had brought her pet indoors — a rare privilege at the time. Yet the ashes she was using in the cat’s litter box resulted in sooty paw prints all over the house.

Instead of sand, Ed gave her a package of fuller’s earth granules. After rave reviews from her and other neighbors, Lowe began marketing the material as Kitty Litter at pet shops and cat shows. Two years later, he left his father’s business and devoted himself to building demand for Kitty Litter. By the time Ed sold the clay division of Edward Lowe Industries (ELI) in 1990, the company had grown to about 600 employees and $165 million in annual sales.

Darlene Lowe

Darlene Lowe co-founded the Edward Lowe Foundation in 1985 along with her husband, for whom the organization is named. After Ed’s deather in 1995, Darlene went on to lead the foundation as its chairman and CEO for 25 years, stepping down in 2020 to become chairman emeritus.

An entrepreneur herself, Darlene established her own interior design business, Haymarket Interiors, in the late 1960s. In the 1970s, she became vice president of design and facilities planning at Edward Lowe Industries, where she managed the design and renovation of more than 80 diverse projects, including the foundation’s 2,000-acre campus, Big Rock Valley (BRV).

At BRV, Darlene has created a “country classic” signature style that blends antiques and rustic furnishings with eclectic, contemporary elements. She recycles materials in surprising ways, such as placing buttons on furniture or using pickle barrel slats and railroad ties to build decks. The end result: a yesteryear rural charm with a touch of formality.

An entrepreneurial love story

Ed and Darlene Lowe wanted to help future generations of business owners, which led to the creation of the Edward Lowe Foundation. An integral part of their legacy was the development of Big Rock Valley (BRV), the foundation’s headquarters property and learning campus in southwest Michigan.

Married later in life, Ed and Darlene didn’t have children together, but viewed BRV as their common child. Indeed, it embodies their central DNA: a strong work ethic, appreciation for aesthetics, love of the land — and a passion for building and improving things. Together, the Lowes aimed to create a serene yet stimulating refuge at BRV that would help other entrepreneurs relax and recharge — and spark their imagination.

Information Center

Open to the public, the Edward Lowe Foundation Information Center houses a historical exhibit of Ed and Darlene Lowe’s business ventures and initiatives to support entrepreneurship.

This mini museum gives visitors a quick look at Ed’s entrepreneurial journey, with a special focus on his business ventures in or near Cass County. Within the center’s exhibits, visitors will find videos, print materials, historical photographs and artifacts related to Lowe’s life. For example, a display of marketing campaigns features advertisements, packaging and product displays that date back to the 1940s — many of which were cutting-edge for their time.

Located at the foundation’s entrance at 58220 Decatur Road in Cassopolis, Michigan, the Information Center is open to the public on weekdays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. (except holidays). For more information, call 800-232-LOWE (5693) or email us at info@lowe.org.

Memorial Walk

Located at Big Rock Valley, the foundation has created a memorial walk to remember and honor individuals who have been important in the history of our organization — and the lives of our founders, Ed and Darlene Lowe. This includes not only family members and foundation employees but also past employees from the many businesses that Ed Lowe operated, including Lowe’s Sawdust Co., Lowe’s Inc., Big Rock Valley Farms and Edward Lowe Industries Inc.

Dan Wyant, Chairman and President