Described as North Myrtle Beach’s “matriarch”, a “gem” and the “best representation” of community spirit, Pauline Lowman has been selected for the third time since 1975 to be the Christmas Parade Grand Marshal. The parade will be held this Saturday at 5:30 p.m. on Main Street.
Known as “Ms. Polly,” Lowman turned 83 on Friday and for 48 years has been the publisher of the North Myrtle Beach Times, as well as the three-decade long publisher of the Loris Times. She often stays up all night to ensure the latest information makes it into the paper, and she reads and edits every article, while also giving space for such events as the Christmas Regatta to advertise and promote it and other charitable causes. She can recall most people’s phone numbers without having to look it up. She buys toys throughout the year to give to area children and regularly gives flowers to her staff.
Her life-long home has been North Myrtle Beach and her dedication to public service through the newspaper and beyond was commented upon by many public officials and dignitaries.
“Ms. Polly is the matriarch of North Myrtle Beach, period,” said Harold Worley, former state house representative and current Horry County Councilman. “She, over the years, has been very true to our community and she’s never waivered through good times and bad times. She’s always been a lady that deserves respect, and that paper has been a real asset to our community over the years.”
The city of North Myrtle Beach sponsors the parade and city manager Mike Mahaney said, “Polly is symbolic of North Myrtle Beach. She knows everybody. She cares about everybody and she contributes to events, both large and small. She keeps us all informed.”
Renee Hembree praised Lowman for putting out a newspaper that gives “a warmth … and a sense of community.” Speaking on behalf of her family and her husband, State Senator Greg Hembree, Renee said Ms. Polly called and offered support when her husband was going through his recent health scare, a brain aneurysm.
“And I love what she stands for,” Hembree said. “She’s a good communicator on an individual basis and her paper brings us together. … In political campaigns, she covers all fairly and never says an unkind word.”
Hembree said Lowman is especially valuable for her vault of memories. “She remembers the way North Myrtle Beach used to be and is now, and the paper holds the community together. I’ve seen people’s children grow up through that paper. My kids played the kids page and they are married with children now.”
Hembree said she enjoys the “Looking Back” page Ms Polly puts together each week. “I love looking at the pics from the past that she puts in, and every so often I go, ‘Oh wait; that’s me. I was a lot skinnier then and had lots of big hair.’ So it’s very nostalgic. She’s great; nobody deserves this recognition more than her.”
Cathy Altman, executive director of the North Myrtle Beach Area Historical Museum, recalled simply mentioning to Ms. Polly that she sometimes gets bad headaches at work and wished she had a couch to rest upon when they strike. “The next thing I know, in a day, there’s a couch and a loveseat being delivered. I mean, what a huge gesture! She is always asking what do you need, not just for the museum but for me,” said Altman, who is often at work 60 hours at the museum and cares for a disabled spouse.
“She has such a huge giving heart, giving nature and giving spirit,” Altman said.
Emily Stephens, who is chairperson of the mayor’s Christmas advisory committee, said the group selected Lowman because “she’s a very special person and has done so much for our city. And she’s a smart gal. She is most deserving.”
Liz Gilland, a former Horry County Councilwoman, said Lowman has contributed to quality journalism in the area. “She celebrates truth and insists on good grammar!”
“The heart of a community is reflected in its local paper and the heart of the North Myrtle Beach Times is Polly Lowman,” Gilland said. “For decades, she has served tirelessly as the North Strand’s town crier, cheerleader, political reporter and advocate.”
Joan Vaitis recalled the support Ms. Polly gave when she and her husband were helping organize the North Myrtle Beach Rescue Squad. “She’s been connected to it since 1989,” said Vaitis, now an advisor to the board. “She’s supported us financially, and helped out with projects, and other community fundraising. That has been a very big part of what she does.”
Vaitis and others mentioned the toys she buys for children and donates at the holidays, as well as offering space for worthy causes. Vaitis recalled the paper sponsored and Lowman judged an essay contest on the importance of the rescue squad. With an eye for good writing, as well as the humor of children, Lowman chose as the delightful winning entry, Vaitis recalled, “where the child said the rescue squad is so wonderful because even if an alligator is biting your leg, they’ll come save you.”
“She really helped us establish a place in the community,” Vaitis said.
The North Myrtle Beach Chamber of Commerce also has relied on Lowman’s support, since its inception. “She is the gem of North Myrtle Beach,” said Pete Brooks, chamber spokesperson. “The things that she does for the city of North Myrtle Beach? That list would go and on and on. She is heavily involved in the community, and not just the business community. She is interested in the historical museum and charities.”
Susie Watson, who is an organizer of the Christmas Regatta, works closely with Miss Polly on promoting the event. The newspaper puts out a special tab and provides free advertising.
“Polly is the backbone of our local community,” Watson said. “She has been there through thick and thin. She’s promoted our event and been a part of our lives. We truly appreciate all she does for us with the Regatta, but also in how she touches personal lives.”
Echoing the sentiments of many others, Watson said, “She’s family.” Or, as Worley put it, she is the”Matriarch” of the community family of North Myrtle Beach.
“I can think of no one more deserving,” Stephens said.