Joan MacDuffie Lowell


Joan MacDuffie Lowell died peacefully in her sleep at her home in Edgartown on March 13, 2023, at the age of 98. Her husband, Ralph Lowell, passed away at home just nine months earlier, in May, at the age of 99. 

Joan was born in Boston in 1925, and was the oldest of four children of John and Evelyn Walker MacDuffie of Chestnut Hill. 

Joan grew up in Chestnut Hill, and attended the Windsor School in Boston, and Bennett College in Millbrook, New York, where she majored in fashion design. Though she would never admit it, she was very artistic and creative. Throughout her life, she enjoyed sewing, cooking, painting, and gardening. 

Joan married Ralph Lowell Jr. of Westwood on July 15, 1948. They raised their family between Westwood and Nahant, before retiring to Edgartown in the late ’70s. Joan was very proud of their first little house on South Summer Street in Edgartown, which she bought on her own as a vacation home in the early ’70s. It was her pride and joy, and living there was the happiest time of her life. She and Ralph spent hours on All Island Tours exploring the Vineyard’s backroads and beaches, digging for clams, checking out local farmstands and going to yard sales, a regular weekend activity. But she especially loved deep-sea fishing for stripers and blues with Capt. Nelson Smith out of Edgartown Harbor. She was quite the fisherwoman, and often seen with Ralph at the weigh-in station in Edgartown during the annual Fishing Derby, checking on the competition. All of her family members have fond memories of participating in these fun activities with her while visiting on the Vineyard. 

She was predeceased by her sister, Katherine Whitney, and leaves behind a sister, Patricia Swan, and a brother, John MacDuffie Jr. She is survived by three children and their spouses: Ralph Lowell III (“Rafe”) and his wife Priscilla of Sherborn, Evelyn Lowell Lynch (“Vee”) and her husband John of Moretown, Vt., and Amy Lowell of Greenfield, N.H. She was Grandma to six grandchildren: Abigail Lowell Barjum of Wellesley, Emily Lowell of Dover, Robert Lynch and John Lynch (“Mac”) of Moretown, Vt., Charlotte MacAusland of Reno, Nev., and Dorothy MacAusland of Westmoreland, N.H. She leaves four great-grandchildren, Abbott, Archer, Bayley, and Channing, with another on the way. She also leaves two devoted caregivers, Nancy Nevin and Nana Atuahene of Martha’s Vineyard, who helped Joan and Ralph immensely during the latter years of their lives, and whom she loved dearly.

There will be a private family ceremony in her memory in Edgartown this spring.


  1. So sad to see that Joan died, and so soon after Ralph. They were a lovely couple. My condolences to their family, caregivers, and friends.

  2. A wonderful couple who lived a long life. They set many positive examples for others to follow. Both Mr. and Mrs. Lowell will be missed but their spirit lives on..

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