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This article is from the Dictionary of North Carolina Biography, 6 volumes, edited by William S. Powell. Copyright ©1979-1996 by the University of North Carolina Press. Used by permission of the publisher. For personal use and not for further distribution. Please submit permission requests for other use directly to the publisher.

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Towe, Kenneth Crawford

by Suzanne S. Levy, 1996

19 Jan. 1893–6 Jan. 1978

Kenneth Crawford Towe, chemical company executive, was born in Elizabeth City to the Reverend William (1865–1946), a Methodist circuit rider, and Katherine Crawford Towe (1868–1942). Educated at public schools in Elizabeth City, Towe worked in a post office, grocery store, and lumber, textile, and paper mills before attending Trinity College (now Duke University) during 1914–17. In 1917 he enlisted in the army. He attended the officers' training camp at Fort Oglethorpe, Ga., and was commissioned a second lieutenant in the Quartermaster Corps. He served at Camp Jackson, S.C., and at the General Intermediate Storage Depot, Gievres, France. Discharged a captain in July 1919, he began working as secretary to the chief executive of Roanoke Mills in Roanoke Rapids.

In 1923 Towe became head buyer for the Childs Restaurant chain in New York City. Three years later he joined the American Cyanamid Company in New York and began a thirty-two-year career in the accounting department. He was named assistant treasurer in 1928, treasurer and a director in 1939, vice-president of finance in 1945, and president in January 1952. In 1957 he was elected chairman of the board, a position he held until his retirement in April 1958.

Towe served as a director of the Campbell Soup Company, Duke Power Company, Morgan Guaranty Trust Company, Putnam Trust Company, Boys' Club of America, and Michigan Gas Utilities Company and as a trustee of the Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center, the National Safety Council, Duke University, and the Duke Endowment. He was a member of the National Association of Manufacturers, the Newcomen Society of America, the Masonic order (Shriner), Omicron Delta Kappa, and Kappa Alpha. Towe was a Methodist.

On 28 Apr. 1934, in Bethesda, Md., he married Elizabeth McCarn. They had three sons: Kenneth McCarn, Rolf Harvey, and Teri Noel. Towe died in Greenwich, Conn., his home for forty years, and was buried in Rocky Mount.


Duke Endowment, Annual Report of the Duke Endowment (1977).

Fortune magazine, June 1952.

Nat. Cyc. Am. Biog., current vol. 1, 1953–59 (1960).

New York Times, 8 Jan. 1978.

Raleigh News and Observer, 13 Nov. 1957.