TAPS: Paul Lowell Passes Away

It is with heavy hearts that we announce the sudden passing of fellow NIP member, Paul Lowell, on 19 November 2023. He was 77 years old. A Naval Intelligence legend, Paul was a consummate professional and trusted colleague who was highly respected and admired for his towering intellect and self-effacing nature. He was described by a close colleague as a "researcher’s researcher, life coach, mentor, and a friend.” 

Paul was the Assistant Director of the Intelligence Analysis Division at the Institute for Defense Analyses (IDA) at the time of his passing. IDA President, General Norton Schwartz, USAF (Ret.), acknowledged Paul's significant contributions in a recent message to the IDA work force after his passing: "From his earliest days at IDA, Paul was known for leading the most challenging and complex cross-domain and cross-agency projects. His grasp of defense intelligence and technology was legendary. Perhaps his biggest contribution, and what he will be most remembered for, was his willingness to stop on even the busiest of days to listen with absolute attention and care to the professional and life challenges of his teammates."

Prior to his time with IDA, Paul enjoyed a distinguished civilian career in the United States Navy as an engineer and intelligence professional, culminating in Senior Executive Service positions in both Navy research and intelligence, including Director of Naval Intelligence. In fact, Paul was appointed the Acting DNI twice. The first time was to fill a gap between RADM Michael Cramer and then-RADM Jake Jacoby in 1997, and the second time was to fill a gap caused by RADM Mike Ratliff’s retirement in 2000. The CNO was so impressed by Paul that he subsequently promoted him to the DNI position in March 2000, making him the first (and only) civilian to ever hold that title, until he was relieved by RADM Rick Porterfield in August 2000.    

Before working at IDA, he was the special advisor on HUMINT and Counterintelligence for the Chief of Naval Operations. His other positions included Principal Deputy Chief of Naval Research at the Office of Naval Research; Director of Systems at ONI; Director of Special Projects for the CNO, and the Assistant Division Director for the REWSON Program office. 

Paul was ONI’s IT Director and de facto Chief Information Officer at the dawn of the information age through the 1990s. Paul had a leading hand in the development and deployment of Joint Maritime Intelligence Support System (JMISS), which eventually became a DoD standard. He provided the technical expertise and top cover for bringing the www/internet into the National Maritime Intelligence Center in 1994, making ONI the first IC agency to do so. Paul also played an important role (for which he never sought nor got credit) in ONI’s initial efforts at digitized intelligence production.

He held a Bachelor of Science in electrical engineering from Northeastern University and a Master of Science in electrical engineering from George Washington University. His many awards included the National Military Intelligence Association-sponsored VADM Rufus L. Taylor Leadership Award, the Intelligence Community National Distinguished Service Medal, and our very own NIP Red Tie Award.  

Paul was preceded in death by his wife, Tamela J. Lowell, who passed away in 2001. He is survived by his daughter, Katherine Lowell, and her three (almost four) children; his son, Jeffrey Mitchell, and his two children, as well as three younger siblings and numerous nieces and nephews.

Paul left an indelible mark on all those who crossed his path and will be greatly missed. In the words of Joe Mazzafro: “Whether I was with Paul one on one or in a group, large or small, I always knew that he was both the smartest person in the room and the kindest.” 

Our thoughts and prayers are with Paul’s family.  Read his obituary or leave a condolence message.

The following memorial and funeral times for Paul are:

The Wake/Visitation will be on Sunday, 26 November, 4-7 PM at Murphy Funeral Home (4510 Wilson Blvd (near intersection of Glebe and Wilson in Ballston), Arlington, VA.

Funeral services will be on Monday, 27 November at 11 AM at St. Charles Catholic Church (in Clarendon, 3304 Washington Blvd, Arlington), followed by burial at Columbia Gardens Cemetery (3411 Arlington Blvd, Arlington, VA).