A memorial service for James P. Dow, an independent businessman who was active all his life in music and astronomy, will be conducted at noon Saturday in Forest Lawn Chapel. Burial will be in Forest Lawn.
Dow died Tuesday (Dec. 25, 1990) in his Buffalo home. He was 61.
He worked in various capacities, including president, in the family business, Dow & Co. In 1985, he formed his own corporation, James P. Dow & Associates, a construction equipment distributorship specializing in small municipal machinery and crane brokerage services.
He was born in Hamburg, the son of the late Jane P. and Burton C. Dow, who bought a construction equipment company the year after his son was born. It became Dow & Co. and by 1979 had reached $15 million in sales.
Dow worked for the company in numerous administrative capacities until his father's death in 1958, when he became president. He served as president until 1961.
From 1961 to 1966, he served as a switchman and yard foreman with the South Buffalo Railroad. He then joined the Buffalo public schools as a science teacher, teaching physics and general science at South Park High School.
From 1973 to 1985, he rejoined Dow & Co. as a business consultant. He served as vice president and secretary of the corporation, and his responsibilities included personnel, finance and data processing. He continued to serve on the Dow board of directors as corporate secretary after he started his own business.
Dow's fascination for astronomy was first inspired by his fifth-grade teacher, Mary Cummins. He laid out a model of the solar system on the Park School campus and received his first telescope on his 11th birthday. Dow covered his bedroom ceiling with stars and had a model of the solar system on his ceiling light.
When he was 16 he enrolled in a night course at Buffalo Technical High School to learn how to make mountings for a telescope. He ground his own lens for a 6-inch reflector and two 4-inch telescopes. He installed the 6-inch reflector in a wheat field in East Aurora and began construction of his own observatory.
The following year, he completed construction of a dome in the Dow & Co. shop and installed a dome on the observatory building in East Aurora. He installed a 10-inch telescope in the observatory, which he constructed with the assistance of a stone mason.
Dow graduated from Park School in 1947 and graduated from Harvard University with a degree in astronomy.
From 1951 to 1954, he served as a communications officer with the U.S. Navy in the Pacific during the Korean War. He was discharged a lieutenant (junior grade).
Dow was an accomplished pianist and also played the cello and double bass. He enjoyed hiking, camping and fishing with his family. He traveled with his daughters to the Philippines in March 1988 to view the solar eclipse with Corazon Aquino.
He served on the boards of the Community Music School, the Buffalo Ballet Theatre, the Buffalo Astronomical Association, First Church of Christ, Scientist, and the Harvard Club of Buffalo.
He is survived by two daughters, Kimberly L. of Tucson, Ariz., and Karen A. of Marlboro, Vt.; a son, David J. of Richmond, Va.; a brother, Peter B., and a sister, Mary D. Seevers.