George Crosby Towner – Vice Admiral, United States Navy

From a contemporary press report:

George Towner Sr., a retired Vice Admiral who headed Naval District Northwest was a leader who could follow.

The tall, quiet Montanan did what was needed. His dignity and ability to see the big picture enhanced whatever he did, from commanding ships in World War II military campaigns to stuffing envelopes alongside secretaries in Seattle University funding campaigns.

During World War II he served as navigator and executive officer aboard the heavy cruiser Louisville. He took part in several campaigns including the Battle of Guadalcanal, and earned honors that included the Combat Victory Medal.

Admiral Towner died of heart failure May 25, 1999, at a care facility in West Falls Church, Va., where he had moved this year. He was 98.

Born in Fort Benton, Montana, he graduated from the United States Naval Academy in 1924. He earned a master's degree in metallurgical engineering at Carnegie Institute of Technology in 1931.

He assumed command of the destroyer Bainbridge in 1937, commanded the Louisville in early World War II and the destroyer tender Yosemite at the war's end.

After the war, he taught naval science at the University of Rochester (New York), then took command of the heavy cruiser Helena in the Pacific.

In 1952 he was promoted to Rear Admiral and assigned command of the Navy's Middle East Force, where Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie awarded him a special honor. In the mid-1950s Admiral Towner earned the Legion of Merit for overseeing cargo operations on the first line of early-warning radar across the Arctic.

Becoming a Vice Admiral in 1960, he began a final tour as Commandant of the former 13th Naval District in Seattle. He retired in 1963.

He did public relations and development work at SU until 1975. He was president of the Visiting Nurse Services of the Northwest in 1977.

“He was a marvelous gentleman with a good sense of humor, but very steady,” said former SU secretary Margaret Sullivan.

“He sat right outside the president's office. Sometimes we'd have a huge mailing to get out. He'd come in and stuff envelopes and be talking with women from other offices who came to help. And here he'd been a commander in some of the biggest battles in the South Pacific.”

Also surviving are his son, George Towner Jr., an attorney in Arlington, Va.; 10 grandchildren; and eight great-grandchildren. His first wife, Margaret, died in 1937. His second wife, Elizabeth, died in 1994. His daughter Peggy Towner died in 1928, and his daughter Patricia Ann Markle died in 1965.

Funeral Mass was held last Tuesday at St. Agnes Catholic Church, Arlington, Va., followed by interment with full military honors at Arlington National Cemetery.

From a press report:

George Crosby Towner, 98, a retired Navy vice admiral who had served from 1957 to 1960 as assistant chief of Naval Operations for general planning, died of congestive heart failure May 25, 1999 at the nursing facility at Goodwin House West in Falls Church, Virginia.

Admiral Towner, who had been in Goodwin House since returning to this area in February from Seattle, had served as 13th Naval District commandant in Seattle.

He retired from that post in 1963 after 43 years of Navy service.


Formerly of Seattle, Washington, on Tuesday, May 25, 1999, husband of the late Elizabeth M. Towner; devoted father of George C. Towner, Jr., Arlington, Virginia. Also surviving are ten grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren. Vice Admiral Towner was preceded in death by two daughters, Peggy Towner and Patricia Ann Markle. Mass of Christian Burial will be offered 11:30 a.m. on Tuesday, June 1, at St. Agnes Catholic Church, 1914 N. Randolph St., Arlington, Virginia. Interment Arlington National Cemetery, with full military honors. The family suggests that memorial contributions be made to the Seattle University School of Nursing, Seattle, Washington 98122.

Towner, Elizabeth Marie
b. 07/10/1899, d. 02/28/1994
US Army, PVT
Res: Seattle, Washington
Section 7, Grave 10046 LH, buried 03/10/1994

Towner, George C
b. 03/19/1901, d. 05/25/1999
US Navy, Vice Admiral
Res: Arlington, Virginia
Section 7, Grave 10046 LH, buried 06/01/1999

Read our general and most popular articles

Leave a Comment