Fallbrook mourns the loss of an Icon – Marilee Lowe


Last updated 5/10/2019 at 8:07pm

Heidi McLaughlin

Special to the Village News

Heaven just welcomed an amazing angel after one of our favorite Fallbrook icons went home to be with our Lord. Marilee Lowe, longtime resident and a pillar of our Friendly Village, left us Wednesday, April 24, 2019, after she passed doing what she loved most; horseback riding.

After a lovely three-day horse camping trip at Casper's Wilderness Park in San Juan Capistrano, with several of her closest friends in attendance, a freak horseback riding accident took her life in an instant. Those that knew her well stated that she wouldn't have wanted it any other way!

As an avid horseback rider for over 50 years, horses were her passion, her therapy and her life! Marilee was fiercely dedicated to our horse community and worked tirelessly alongside the Fallbrook Trails Council to keep some of our local trails open that were in danger of being encroached upon or even closed to horseback riders.

Marilee was a current board member of Fallbrook Riders Field on Stage Coach Lane and recently headed up a huge monthlong effort to cut, trim and haul-away overgrown vegetation on the property. Much of the work, she physically did herself. She added many programs and events to the already-much-loved pony club so that many other horse enthusiasts from other disciplines could enjoy the space also.

The Riders Field was also an evacuation site for horses during the recent Lilac fire in December 2017, and the Rock fire in July 2018 where Marilee organized all the volunteers to feed, clean and care for the displaced horses that came from all over. In the beginning of the evacuation process of the Rock fire, she was headed into De Luz with her truck and trailer to get horses out. She found herself in the middle of Rock Mountain Road with two other trailers, a bunch of horses loaded and behind a Sheriff escort with flames on both sides of the road. "She promised me she was being careful," said her daughter, Jennifer Youngren, who added, "That was my mom, fearless and focused on saving horses!"

As a longtime member of the Vista Palomar Riders Club on Little Gopher Canyon in Bonsall, Marilee served many years on the board of directors as well as serving several terms as president. Her successful fundraising efforts brought in much of the money that has sustained the club over the years.

Many may not know that REINS Therapeutic Horsemanship Program had been founded in 1984 in San Marcos, but by 1989, was in danger of shutting down. Marilee knew how important the work of this organization was, so she stepped in and took over its operations as Director, began gallant fundraising efforts, and moved it to Fallbrook in 1991. REINS current director, Debbie Shinner, who was appointed as director in 1995 by Marilee, credits her for "saving" REINS. "Anything I ever asked her for, as busy as she was, I could always count on her," Shinner said.

Another one of her greatest efforts was actually documented in the Guinness Book of World Records when she spearheaded a huge charity effort to benefit the wild mustangs and other horse rescue programs through a national trail riding organization known as ACTHA (American Competitive Trail Horse Association). On June 13, 2010, Marilee mapped out a 6-mile course on the back trails of Bonsall mostly owned by Ernie Moody from Moody Creek Farms that hosted more than 100 riders and raised thousands of dollars.

According to an article published on the Equisearch website, "On the day of the event, 984 riders gathered in 24 states to compete in local trail rides that were organized by ACTHA for the official Guinness World Records attempt, in which riders competed on six-mile trails comprised of safe, fun and natural trail obstacles that were observed by professional judges. In addition to the riding participants, over 622 volunteers across the nation pitched in to make the day's events possible."

Marilee was a successful real estate agent and one of Windemere Homes & Estates top producers. Her professionalism included such wisdom, strength, resilience, compassion that so many of her clients relied on as she worked tirelessly to help others buy and sell homes. Many don't realize that she worked with the County of San Diego to redefine as well as loosen strict zoning laws for the benefit of horse properties owners.

She recently helped a local family who was reeling from their own tragedy, completely clean out and box up their entire home as well as organize an estate sale to get their home ready for sale. She always went above and beyond what the normal job description was to help and serve her clients, who usually became her friends after their transactions had closed.

As a talented florist, she owned and operated several flower shops including Primrose Lane in Fallbrook near Major Market for many years. Her eye for design and creativity was over the top, always gorgeous and arranged with love.

Part of being a local business owner, Marilee was an active member of Soroptimist, who in the early days, organized the Miss Fallbrook Pageant. She also joined the efforts of the Fallbrook Chamber of Commerce where she helped launch the first Avocado Festival in 1986. Her vision was to raise funds and bring in outside customers to help build up business for local merchants in our little avocado village.

Suffice to say that Marilee was a shining light in many people's lives. She very was generous with her time as she shared her many talents to help others. She was a true example of one person who truly made a difference. Most people who knew her marveled at how she had so many balls in the air at any given time and managed to get it all done so well because she was so organized. But with how busy she was, she always made time for her friends and her family.

Her grandchildren, Nash (16) and Katie (11), were the apples of her eye. She was a devoted mother and grandmother to the Youngren family who also live here in Fallbrook and own and operate Youngren Construction. She recently wrote in her grandson's Valentine's Day card, "Dear Nash, you are the most important man in my life..." She had passed on her passion for horses to her granddaughter and had been recently helping Katie with her new horse, Sammy. At every sporting event or activity, "Nana" was there cheering for her grandkids and supporting them in whatever they did.

To her extended family, she was known as "Crazy Aunt Marilee" who had tenaciously and fearlessly overcome a childhood of disorder and pain. Her daughter and son-in-law, Jennifer and Scott Youngren; her grandchildren, Nash and Katie; her older sister, Vicki Darling and her family; her stepsister, Stephanie Harrigan; stepson, Shayne Lowe and his family, will all remember her as a feisty, hard-working, determined, and patriotic woman they could all aspire to be more like. Along with her family, the Fallbrook community has lost a true servant and community builder, but we can rejoice in her heavenly homecoming and the example that she left us all.

Please join us for a Celebration of Life for Marilee Lowe, Saturday, May 18, 2019, 2-4 p.m., Fallbrook Riders Field, 1627 S Stage Coach Lane, Fallbrook. Donations may be made in her memory to REINS, Fallbrook Riders Field or Vista Palomar Riders.


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