A HARD ACT TO FOLLOW

The search is quietly on for someone to fill the shoes of the late Jack Lowe Sr., former chairman and chief diplomat of the Dallas Alliance. Since the mid-Seventies, the alliance has tried to bridge the business and minority communities, attempting to keep the lid on city racial problem

Whoever gets the chairmanship will have his or her hands full. Lowe served the alliance as chairman except for a brief period when Walter Humann, executive vice president of Hunt Oil Co., was its leader. Lowe’s friends say he worked almost full time at the delicate job.

Mayor Jack Evans, a friend of Lowe’s, says the Dallas Independent School District desegregation case was “the highlight of Jack’s civic career.” The mayor recalls that Lowe was the one who helped create an atmosphere in which negotiation was possible. “He brought all the factions together and created really a melting pot,” Evans says.

But the alliance, during Lowe’s tenure, did not solve many of the thornier issues affecting the city’s poor and minority communities.

While Lowe dealt with broad and generally acceptable social issues such as desegregation, his successor will be faced with calls for placing more blacks and His-panics on corporate board

and for locating savings and loan institutions in the less affluent portions of the city. In other words, says Dallas Vice Mayor Fred Blair, the alliance’s businessmen will be asked to set their own houses in orde

Blair says the alliance has done valuable work, but he says he finds it ironic that 27 years after Brown v. Board of Education Dallas is still trying to desegregate its schools.

And he thinks the alliance might have to change its attitude about its mission.

“It has tried, as they say, to keep the lid on things,” Blair says. “It has not, in fact, shared the wealth with all the citizens of Dallas. We don’t need a handout, we need a helping hand. And there is a difference. A handout keeps you on your knees; a helping hand gets you off your knees.”

The acting chairman of the alliance is Jack Miller, who runs the Sanger-Harris department stores in Dallas. Miller told Lowe that he did not want the responsibility of heading the alliance, but changed his mind after Lowe made a virtual deathbed request that he do so. He clearly hopes he holds the job only temporarily, and says that he lacks the patience to sit through hours of meetings or to counsel telephone callers early in the morning.

“I don’t get paid to have patience in my business. I’m a retailer; I’ve spent my whole career learning how not to have patience,” Miller says.

So the floor remains open for nominations. Among those mentioned are Tom McCartin, publisher of the Dallas Times Herald, John Scovell, president of Woodbine Development Corp., and Walter Humann.

Some downtown leaders believe that no one person will replace Lowe and that a group of three or four businessmen will have to step into the void left by the super-diplomat. The alliance has pledged to be out in front of the issues that could cause a breach between the city’s power structure and minority groups; concerns that top the list include schools, the criminal justice system and the fate of in-town neighborhood.

The alliance must keep its credibility if it is to be effective. Even for three or four leaders, it won’t be an easy job. Lowe’s reputation helped it through the past half decade. It still has credibility, Blair says, “but only on a limited range of issues.”

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