Roland Kenneth "Ken" TOWERY
1923 - 2016
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TOWERY, Roland Kenneth
Roland Kenneth Towery (Ken) was born on January 25, 1923 in Monroe County, Mississippi. He passed away peacefully surrounded by his family in Austin, Texas on May 4, 2016, the anniversary of 69 years with his wife, Louise. He was 93 years old.

After his family moved to Texas in 1924, he grew up on a farm in South Texas. Entering the US Army on his 18th birthday, Ken served during World War II in defense of the Philippines where he was captured at the fall of Corregidor and interned as a prisoner of war in China for three and one-half years. Among other decorations, he holds the Purple Heart and Presidential Unit Citation with two Oak Leaf Clusters.
Ken married a Knippa, Texas girl, Louise Ida Cook, on May 4, 1947 in Houston, Texas. In 1955, while Managing Editor for the Cuero Daily Record, he received the Pulitzer Prize for his series of stories exposing fraud and corruption in the Texas Veterans Land Program. In 1956, Towery joined the Capitol Staff of Newspapers, Inc. in Austin covering state government and politics. From there, he moved to Washington as an aide to Senator John Tower and, later, into other government service.
Towery's government service includes six years as aide to Former Senator John Tower of Texas (most of it as Administrative Assistant) and seven years as Deputy Director and Assistant Director of the United States Information Agency. His service also includes ten years as Board Member of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting where he was twice elected as Chairman of the Board.

Towery was involved in numerous political campaigns including managing two of Senator Tower's reelection bids. He was Deputy Press Secretary in the 1980 Reagan campaign for Presidency during the General Election, managed President Nixon's Texas campaign during the 1968 Presidential campaign, and was involved in the Goldwater campaign for Presidency in 1964. He was also active in management or as consultant in a number of State and Congressional campaigns.

In addition, Towery owned weekly newspapers in North Texas: The Floyd County Hesperian-Beacon and the Crosby County News & Chronicle as well as the Belton Journal. He was inducted into the Panhandle Press Association Hall of Fame in 1998 and the Texas Newspaper Foundation Hall of Fame in 2015.

Towery wrote his memoirs, "The Chow Dipper", about his experiences as a Prisoner of War and his years of involvement in journalism and politics. In the first part of the book, he recalls the siege of Corregidor and his time in a Japanese prison camp. There, his fellow prisoners chose Ken as the chow dipper because they trusted him to fairly apportion their food from the bucket it came in. Ken later wrote, "Nothing in the secular world, the world apart from my family, has approached the honor of being chosen 'Chow Dipper' by starving men" - the Pulitzer Prize was not as meaningful as being the chow dipper. In the second part, he tells his views through experience of the changing faces of journalism, politics, and government during critical stages of American history.

Ken is survived by his wife, Louise; a daughter and son-in-law, Alice and Leonard Gilroy, of Austin; a son, Roland Kenneth Towery Jr., of Baltimore; four grandchildren: Roland Kenneth Towery III and his wife, Jamie, of Savannah, Georgia, Rachel Sines and her husband, David, of Winter Garden, Florida, Athena Towery of Baltimore, Maryland, and Brandon Gilroy of Austin; and three great grandchildren: Watson Sterner of Baltimore, Maryland and Archer Towery and Ezra Towery of Savannah, Georgia.

He was preceded in death by his father and mother, Wiley Azof and Lonie Belle Cowart Towery, and seven brothers and two sisters.

The family will receive friends from 4:00 to 6:00 p.m. on Sunday, May 8, 2016, at Weed-Corley-Fish Funeral Home, 3125 N. Lamar Blvd.

Funeral services will be held at 10:00 a.m. on Monday, May 9, 2016, at Weed-Corley-Fish Chapel followed by interment at the Texas State Cemetery.

Obituary and memorial guestbook available online at

To Plant Memorial Trees in memory, please visit our Sympathy Store.
Published in Austin American-Statesman from May 6 to May 9, 2016.
04:00 - 06:00 PM
Memories & Condolences
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19 entries
May 18, 2016
Texas has lost a treasure. Ken was part of our Associated Republicans of Texas family from the start in 1975. I can still see him sitting at a table during a Candidates Committee meeting. He would rub his forehead before sharing thoughtful ideas on the subject at hand. After A.R.T., a group of us continued to meet for lunch and fun visits with Ken and Louise at their home. I was honored to call him a friend and will miss him. My love to Louise and family.
Pat Robbins
May 17, 2016
I never had the honor to meet Mr. Towery, but I worked with his daughter Alice in the late 1970's at Rice University and remember the stories she shared with me about her dad. Men like Mr. Towery are very few in the times we are living in. My thoughts and prayers are with Alice and her family.
Emil (Dale) Alvarez
Harris County Sheriff's Office
Houston, Texas
Emil (Dale) Alvarez
May 9, 2016
Dear Loiuse,

I was saddened to see that your dear husband has passed. Doug and I remember you and Ken well when we all lived in the DC area. And Doug was with the Reagan Administration. Ken's sharing of his time in the war as a prisonern still lingers with us to this day. Ken was a true hero in our eyes and our sincere condolences go to you and your family. The only consolation is that Ken lived a full life and was no doubt a blessing to all who knew him. I'm sorry our search for you and Ken so we could stay in touch failed us.

Sadly, my Doug passed on January 2 of this year from prostate cancer. He was 79.

Our thoughts and prayers go to you at this time,

Jan Baldwin (Mrs Douglas Baldwin)
Jan Baldwin
May 8, 2016
What a Patriot and a great, sweet man this earthly world has lost! Louise, thinking of you and your family and remembering your good husband and all the times we spent together. We are grateful to have known Ken. Much love from The Tower Family.
Jeanne Cox
May 8, 2016
Ken will be remembered fondly as a central part of the Senator John Tower staff in the 60's. What a decade!. Love and blessings to his family, Anne Cole Steichen
Anne Cole Steichen
May 8, 2016
What else can be said about a man who is the epitome of the humble hero. While Mr. Towery achieved great things, it was his humility that made him great. The world today needs more Ken Towerys but unfortunately they are indeed rare. He will be missed.
Mark Loeffler
May 7, 2016
Finest man I ever met. Brilliant, calm , principled. A true Hero. The world was a better place because of Ken
Kevin Moomaw
May 7, 2016
A true Texan and great American hero! Much love to the family of this kind and humble man.
Pamela & Jack Wright
May 7, 2016
Ken Towery changed Texas and the world for the better with his humble persistence.
Jim Suydam
May 7, 2016
Ken Towery - the epitome of the Greatest Generation - is dearly loved and greatly missed.
Susan Rouse
May 7, 2016
The loss of a true American hero! I was honored to meet him at the TXDAR Fall Forum a few years ago.
Jamie Burchfield
May 7, 2016
We met Ken and Louise, and Roland and Alice, when I was a child and we lived on the same street in Austin. As we grew up, our parents explained about his heroic life as a prisoner and journalist before we ever knew him. His quiet strength served him and others well in his long life. My sympathies to Louise and the entire family. It's never easy, even if it's been a life well lived.
Sue Scarborough Bock
May 7, 2016
Praying for unsurpassed peace, comfort, and solace in knowing you'll see him again, that this is only the beginning. Holding you all close in my prayers.
Leslie Oakley
May 6, 2016
Simply stated, Ken Towery is an example, if not THE example, of what we should all strive to be. Jerry Patterson, former Texas Land Commissioner
Jerry Patterson
May 6, 2016
Ken was a great friend of my father (Jon Ford), who had the deepest respect & love for him based on years of working together as journalists and beyond. -- much sympathy to Louise.
Ann Ford
May 6, 2016
A true gentleman and professional in every sense of the word. He treated everyone with equanimity and respect. It was a pleasure and high honor to and known and worked with Ken during his Tower and VOA tours. Jerry Stephens - Georgetown, TX
Jerry Stephens
May 6, 2016
Ken Towery worked for Sen. Tower and I was a very lowly and young employee of Sen. Ralph Yarborough, but we were allies in several memorable battles to free Texas from the one-party system. His integrity and sense of purpose were admired by all who knew him.
Dave Shapiro
May 5, 2016
I'm honored to be a friend of Alice Towery Gilroy, Lennie, and Brandon for 18 years and honored to have met Mr and Mrs Towery. I'm praying for God to give peace and comfort to the family.
Dwaina Six
May 5, 2016
Ken was a great patriot, soldier, journalist, public servant, and friend to many. It was an honor to have been Ken's friend through the Old Fitz Table and Associated Republicans of Texas. Ken's passing leaves all with a sense of emptiness. We will not share in that great intellect. We have memories and his great book by which to remember Ken. While words cannot really console, we can remember the time we had with Ken. May God bless Ken. My sincere sympathy to Louise and the rest of Ken's family.
Hector De Leon
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