Faces: When Margaret Lowther speaks, they listen

Cathleen Allison photoStorey County Recorder Maggie Lowther, originally from Oregon, is pictured at the Storey County Courthouse in Virginia City.

Cathleen Allison photoStorey County Recorder Maggie Lowther, originally from Oregon, is pictured at the Storey County Courthouse in Virginia City.

VIRGINIA CITY -- Storey County Recorder Maggie Lowther is one of the more reserved officials at commissioners' meetings, but when she speaks, all heads turn.

Lowther is sincere, straightforward and direct. She has cropped hair and large, brown eyes that belie her 74 years. Her deliberate, no-nonsense approach to business gets everyone's attention.

She pays the bills in Storey County in addition to conducting title searches. It's a mind-twisting endeavor because of the tangle of mining claims on most properties in Virginia City. Lowther readily admits to loving the research, the job and Storey County.

"I wouldn't live anywhere else," she said. "I love the space and I love the diverse population. The people are open and tough and there's a cohesiveness here. People gather without being segregated into groups.

"I grew up in a small community not segregated by age," she said. "When there is a function, everyone from the 100-year-olds to the 2-year-olds, come. I like that."

Originally from south-central Oregon, she moved to Storey County in 1970 with her husband, Willard. Her parents set up shop on Virginia City's C Street in 1965. They encouraged the couple to set up an antique shop a few doors away. In addition to the shop, Lowther worked for the phone company.

"Virginia City had a crank system and I used a switchboard," she said. "It was one of the last old systems in existence and there were only five outside lines to Reno and Carson City. After school, getting all of the calls through was like trying to shove marshmallows through a tiny slot."

The 21st century caught up with Virginia City about 1975 and Lowther's job was eliminated. She then focused her attention on her antique business, Maggie's Closet.

"I was Maggie and they called my husband Mr. Closet," she said. "We had furniture and old books. I bought antiques and he restored them."

She said her husband also did the lapidary work, cutting and polishing stones and make everything from belt buckles to bolo ties.

After losing the lease on their building after a change of ownership, the couple moved their business to the Antique Collective on Reno's Mill Street and then to the basement of their home.

Lowther took a job at the Storey County Recorder's office in 1982 and was elected recorder eight years later in 1990. At this point, she is running unopposed and said this will be her last term. Lowther is widowed. Her husband, Willard, died five years ago.

"Before he died, he encouraged me to run for this last term," she said. "I think he was concerned about how I would handle his death. He was one of the finest people I've ever known."

Lowther sits on a number of boards including those for the library, Fourth Ward School and Retired Senior Volunteer Program. She started the Volunteer Program in Storey County's River District and initiated book restoration for the county's 120-year-old hand-written records.

She was married to her husband for 54 years and together they have two sons: Vincent, 51, manager of Platt Electric in Redding, Calif.; and Larry, 57, who is retired and lives in Portland, Ore.


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