TOWERY, SR., ROLAND KENNETH (1923 ~ 2016). The following is an obituary for Ken Towery, Pulitzer Prize winning reporter and longtime political consultant. The obituary was provided by Weed, Corley, Fish Funeral Home.
Mr. R. Kenneth Towery
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.