25 Investigates

Family of Air Force veteran who died at Holyoke Soldiers’ Home can finally lay him to rest

BOSTON — Families of the veterans who died during the pandemic at the Holyoke Soldiers’ Home can finally lay their heroes to rest with the honors they deserve. The pandemic had postponed their funerals for months.

But on a recent on a hot July afternoon in the Quabbin-Swift River Valley, the small town of Hardwick paused.

Family and friends gathered to honor the life of Charles Lowell.

Lowell served in the U.S. Air Force from 1960-65 during the Vietnam War. His time in the Air Force was just the beginning of a lifetime of service for the man remembered as tenacious.

“Tenacity that my brother into the Air Force through the loss of his mother at a young age,” said Lowell’s sister Katie Tyler during the funeral service Saturday afternoon. “Tenacity got him into a burning building as a firefighter in order to save two lives.”

Through it all family was the center of Lowell’s universe. He and his wife, Alice, had four children and then grandchildren.

“He taught me how to tie square knots and wash cars, start campfires and cut wood. spent many a night on the backyard or in the backyard making hobo stew and cinnamon sugar apples by the fire,” said grandson Christian Lowell.

It's fitting that a man who impacted so many in life would also bring about change in death.

“The circumstances that surround my grandfather’s death are unjust, unsettling and unjustified,” said Christian Lowell.

Lowell died more than three months ago, on April 15th and it’s only know his family could say a proper goodbye. The family of Charles Lowell hope their pain will serve a purpose.

“I refuse to let those great men and women’s losses be in vain. And I refuse to remember my grandfather and sadness,” said Christian Lowell.

The deaths of the veterans have spurred several investigations and calls for changes in leadership and an overhaul of the physical facility. Many changes have been made, and more are likely to come.

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