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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Friday, Nov. 21, 2014

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In Milwaukee Buzz

Orange Mike waits for the bus (across from orange chairs).

In Milwaukee Buzz

Michael Lowrey started wearing orange in 1977.

Orange Mike: one bright guy


(page 2)


His wife, C. Kay Hinchliffe, works at Renaissance Books, too.

"We'll be married 33 years come the 12th," he says, his eyes shining. "I've never understood the kind of guy who can't remember his wife's birthday or anniversary."

Lowrey says his love for his wife, daughter, sisters and mother are the main reasons for his commitment to feminism. It was the death of a bird many years ago that originally introduced him to being a Quaker.

"I'm a Tennessee boy. I had a rifle before I could drive. And when I was 13, I shot and killed a bird," he says. "After I did it, I looked at it and I realized it had been alive, just like I was, and I killed it for no reason other than because I had the power to do so. This led me on the path to becoming a Quaker and a feminist."

Ironically, Lowrey often gets asked if he's a hunter. "I say, 'I haven't killed a living creature since I was 13,'" he says. "I like the color, not hunting."

Lowrey grew up in rural western Tennessee. His father passed away and his mother, who he describes as a "genius without a GED," was left alone to raise Lowrey and his siblings on the wages from waitressing and used car sales.

At the age of 20, Lowrey – who was always deeply interested in politics – ran for a seat in the Tennessee General Assembly.

"I lost, but I got 41 percent of the vote. For an unemployed, 20-year-old making his first run for office, it wasn't too shabby," he says.

In 1977, Lowrey came to Wisconsin to run for the national secretary of the Socialist party. Once again, he did not win, but he decided to make Wisconsin his new home anyway.

"I was tired of the corruption and stupidity of southern politics," he says. "And one night, we were sitting around in Century Hall, singing old Socialist and labor songs, and I said to myself, 'I would be so much happier here in the Wisconsin of Frank Zeidler and the Wisconsin of Gaylord Nelson and even the Wisconsin of the La Follettes.' I haven't been back to Tennessee since we buried mama."

Lowrey's passion for politics and history is, in part, why he became an administrator for Wikipedia.

"One of my goals is to see a decent article on every person to serve in Wisconsin legislature," he says.

There are only roughly 500 active Wikipedia administrators in the country. The position is unpaid, but that doesn't matter to Lowrey.

"I'm helping this incredible accumulation of human knowledge to get bigger and better," he says.

In 2013, another administrator made a Wikipedia page for Lowrey because of his "Orange Mike" persona and also because he is listed on IMDB for appearing in a documentary film on science fiction fandom called "Finding The Future" and an episode of "Win Ben Stein's Money" during which he won $2,000.

However, after eight minutes, the page was nominated for deletion by another Wikipedia administrator.

"I was one of the people to chime in and agree that the page should be deleted. Frank Zeidler is a notable person. Justin Bieber is a notable person. Orange Mike? He's just this guy," says Lowrey.

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