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"He didn't say a word." Apart from a shared passion for social-justice causes, there was little that set apart the Lowes from other young couples of their generation.

They met at a club gathering in Oakland's Redwood Regional Park in 1947 and became fast friends.

Bill Lowe, who had served as a submarine repairman during World War II, would pick up his new girlfriend for dates in his 1937 Chevy coupe.

He grew up as a foster child in a predominantly black neighborhood of South Berkeley.

"California was becoming the great state, the powerhouse it would become after World War II.