PASSINGS: Karin Higa, William C. Lowe, Ike Skelton

PASSINGS: Karin Higa, William C. Lowe, Ike Skelton
Karin Higa worked for nearly a decade and a half as a curator at the Japanese American National Museum in Los Angeles. (Sharon Lockhart)

Karin Higa

Expert in Asian American art


Karin Higa, 47, a specialist in Asian American art who worked for nearly a decade and a half as a curator at the Japanese American National Museum in Los Angeles, died Tuesday at her home in L.A., said Russell Ferguson, her husband.

Ferguson, a professor in the art department at UCLA, said his wife had been diagnosed with cancer in February.

Higa worked as a curator at the Japanese American National Museum from 1992 to 2006, rising to the rank of senior curator of art. She had recently been named a curator for the Hammer Museum's "Made in L.A." Biennial for 2014 but was forced to step down because of her illness.

During her tenure at the Japanese American National Museum, Higa helped to organize many notable exhibitions, including a 1992 show of art made at internment camps during World War II and a 2008 show devoted to the art of ikebana, or Japanese flower arrangement.

She was a curator of the touring exhibition "One Way or Another," spotlighting contemporary Asian American art, which ran at the Asia Society in New York in 2006.

Born in Los Angeles on June 19, 1966, Higa spent most of her career in Southern California. She graduated from Columbia University in New York and received a master's degree in art history from UCLA.

Ferguson said his wife had been enrolled in the doctoral art history program at USC but had not completed the program.

In addition to her husband, Higa's survivors include her mother and a brother.

William C. Lowe

Exec oversaw IBM's first personal computer

William C. Lowe, 72, a former IBM executive who oversaw development of the company's first personal computer, died Oct. 19 in Lake Forest, Ill., of a heart attack, according to his daughter Michelle Marshall.

Other companies were making PCs as early as the 1970s, but IBM was behind the curve. Lowe was lab director at IBM's Boca Raton, Fla., facilities when he convinced his bosses that he could assemble a team to build a personal computer in a year. He did it by using parts and software from outside developers.

The IBM 5150 personal computer, introduced in retail stores in 1981, cost $1,565, not including a monitor. It was mass marketed in an attempt to expand the company's reach beyond businesses and into people's homes.

Lowe went on to serve as an IBM vice president and president of its entry systems division, which oversaw the development and manufacturing of IBM's personal computers and other businesses. He left the company in 1988 to work for Xerox and later became president of Gulfstream Aerospace Corp.

William Cleland Lowe was born Jan. 15, 1941, in Easton, Pa., and according to his daughter was the first person in his family to go to college. He enrolled at Lafayette College on a basketball scholarship and, after graduating with a degree in physics, joined IBM in 1962.

Ike Skelton

Longtime Missouri congressman

Former Democratic Rep. Ike Skelton, 81, who built a reputation as a military expert and social conservative during 34 years representing western and central Missouri in the U.S. House, died Monday at a hospital in Arlington, Va., according to longtime colleague Russell Orban. The cause was not released.

After Skelton's 2010 defeat in Missouri's 4th Congressional District by Republican Vicky Hartzler, a state lawmaker who had strong tea party backing, the former prosecutor joined the national Kansas City-based law firm of Husch Blackwell.

Skelton won the first of 17 congressional terms in 1976 and was chairman of the House Armed Services Committee at the time of his loss to Hartzler.

An astute military historian, Skelton helped build up Missouri's two military installations. As Whiteman Air Force Base near Knob Noster was losing its cache of long-range nuclear missiles, Skelton secured its future in the late 1980s by getting the Defense Department to place the new B-2 bomber there.

After redistricting made Skelton the representative for Missouri's Ft. Leonard Wood in 1983, the number of troops undergoing training there more than quadrupled and the post's mission expanded from the Army to all branches of military service.

Born Dec. 20, 1931, in Lexington, Mo., Skelton met President Truman as a teenager and had a lifelong interest in politics. He was elected Lafayette County prosecutor in 1956 and later practiced law with his father, but he returned to elective office in 1970 when he won a six-year term in the Missouri Senate.

An endorsement from Truman's widow, Bess, helped him win his first race for the U.S. House.

Times staff and wire reports