Melvin B. Lowe Jr., a floral designer and funeral home attendant who was also a partner in a special-events and decorating company, died Sept. 27 of renal failure at his Washington home. The one-time Northeast Baltimore resident was 47.
"Melvin was a tremendously gifted person and could do many things," said Carlton C. Douglas, owner of Carlton C. Douglas Funeral Services in Baltimore, where Mr. Lowe was employed. "He was a gifted artist who could arrange flowers or redesign a casket. He was just extraordinary."
The son of an auto worker and a clerk, Melvin Barris Lowe was born in Baltimore and raised on Woodbourne Avenue. He was a 1984 graduate of St. Frances-Charles Hall High School on East Chase Street.
"His artistic talents and creativity really began to flourish and flow when he was in high school," said Wendell Bennett, a boyhood friend who lives in Upper Marlboro. "He just had lots of personality and was so loving."
A self-taught floral arranger, Mr. Lowe established Creations By MBL and later Cre8tive Designs. He later worked for Davon's Boutique in Baltimore and Ransom's Boutique in Towson. In addition to his boutique work, he also worked for Mr. Douglas.
"He started working for us in 1998. In addition to making floral arrangements, Melvin decorated caskets with imitation jewels such as crystals, rubies and emeralds," said Mr. Douglas. "And if the deceased's name was engraved on the casket, he'd place jewels in certain areas of the engraving."
A chance meeting at a movie in 2001 blossomed into a business partnership.
"We began talking, and the more we talked, the more we realized we had a lot in common," said Ted Morgan, a Washington interior decorator. "We were both interested in interior decorating, floral design, fashion, entertaining and gourmet food."
The next year, the two men launched Defining Moments, a Washington special-events, decorating and party-planning company.
Their inaugural event, said Mr. Morgan, was designing a Christmas open house at the Northwest Washington home of the general counsel for the
"It was our first big event, and she became a loyal patron, and we eventually did a number of events for her. We also became close friends," said Mr. Morgan. The event was so successful that "our phone started ringing and we began to make our mark on the community."
In addition to private parties, the partners did weddings, holiday parties, fashion shows, lectures and seminars.
Mr. Lowe and Mr. Morgan also catered smaller events.
"Melvin brought his meticulous attention to detail, his experience in designing beautiful high-end, high-style floral arrangements, and had the ability to please his clients while being professional and personable at the same time," he said.
Mr. Morgan described his friend as being a "consummate gentleman and the epitome of class."
"He was very outgoing, extremely loyal to his friends and a lot of fun to be around," he said.
Mr. Lowe was also an accomplished milliner.
"He made women's hats that are called 'crowns' in the black community and are worn to church," said Mr. Douglas.
"In addition to designing ladies' hats, he had a deep interest in fashion, both men's and women's," said Mr. Morgan.
"His career was his hobby. He loved doing what he did," said Mr. Bennett.
Mr. Lowe was a member of Christ Redeemed Ministries.
Funeral services will be at 10 a.m. Saturday at St. Matthew Roman Catholic Church, 5401 Loch Raven Blvd.
Mr. Lowe is survived by his father, Melvin B. Lowe Sr. of Northeast Baltimore; three brothers, Michael Holly, Maurice B. Lowe and Mark T. Lowe, all of Baltimore; his maternal grandmother, Katie R. Jordan of Baltimore; and several nieces and nephews.