November 09, 2017
Former California Medical Association (CMA) President Rolland C. Lowe, M.D., passed away on Saturday, November 4, at the age of 85. Dr. Lowe was well known for a lifetime of service to the Chinese American community in San Francisco, working to provide immigrants with high-quality health care. He also had a long history of service in organized medicine, and regularly used his leadership positions to get physicians more involved in their communities.
During more than five decades in organized medicine, Dr. Lowe held many distinguished roles, including serving as the first Asian American president of CMA, the first Asian American president of the San Francisco Medical Society and as chair of the CMA Board of Trustees and the CMA Foundation Board of Directors.
Dr. Lowe grew up in a low-income community in Oakland at a time when tacit discrimination against Asians was commonplace. Though faced with adversity during his youth, he graduated from UC Berkeley at 18 and went on to be one of just five Asian students accepted into UC San Francisco’s medical school class of 1955, where he trained to become a vascular surgeon.
After completing his surgical residency at UCSF, Dr. Lowe was highly sought after by prestigious clinics across the Bay Area, but instead dedicated himself to serving patients in the underserved Chinatown community.
Once considered a “radical,” Dr. Lowe quickly became a respected leader of the Chinese community and served as chairperson of the Chinese American Community Foundation, the Chinese Culture Foundation, the Tun Sen Benevolent Association, the Self Help for the Elderly, and the Chinatown Youth Services and Coordinating Center. He also helped co-found the Asian American Health Forum. Additionally, he was chairman of the Chinese Hospital and helped institute the Chinatown Community Health Plan.
During Dr. Lowe’s 54 years of membership in CMA and the San Francisco Medical Society, he is perhaps most well-known for his role in the 1994 reorganization of the CMA Foundation. A member of the CMA Executive Committee at the time, Dr. Lowe helped transform the foundation into a nationally recognized organization at the forefront of tough and important health issues.
Dr. Lowe was also involved in the creation of CMA’s Ethnic Medical Organization Section, which was established in 1995. He strongly believed that the strength of CMA lies in the diversity of its membership, and that minority physician representation in organized medicine is critical to understanding the needs of minority communities.
Dr. Lowe received numerous awards for his philanthropy, including recognition at the White House Conference on Philanthropy.
He leaves his wife of 60 years, Kathy; his sons Larry (and his wife Jeanne) and Randy; his daughter Yvonne (and her husband Bob); and grandchildren Brennan, Laura and Marnie.
The family is having a private funeral service, and plans are underway for a public Celebration of Life. The family requests that, in lieu of flowers, donations are made in his memory to Chinese for Affirmative Action, the Chinese Culture Foundation, the Chinese Progressive Association or the charity of your choice.
You can read his obituary here.