John C. Towler, Sr., 76, passed away on December 16, 2015. He died peacefully due to complications from a fall and neck and spine injuries. He was surrounded by his loving family. To his brother and friends he was just “John,” to his nieces and nephews he was U.J, to his children he was “Dad.” and to his grandchildren he was “Gramps.” He had been a resident of Kitty Hawk, since 1989.
John was born on July 5, 1939 in Charlottesville, Virginia to William A. Towler and Jane Cotten Towler and was the younger of their two sons. His father was a captain in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. During WW II the family lived in several different places, including Puerto Rico. After the war, the family settled in South Boston, Virginia. While in high school, John was a standout athlete, lettering in football and golf. He also was a DJ at a local radio station and had a show called “Johnny’s Jukebox”.
After graduating, high school he attended Washington and Lee University where he developed an interest in the law, writing, and acting, He was a member of the Delta Tau Delta fraternity and completed the R.O.T.C. program. After graduation, John served in the U.S. Army as a 2nd lieutenant. Part of his service included a tour in Korea in 1962-63. After completion of military service, John attended Georgetown Law School. While in law school he clerked on Capitol Hill for Virginia Senator William Spong.
In 1965 John married Elizabeth Davis and moved to Roanoke, Virginia where he began his practice of law. They had three children, John Jr, Grayson Randolph, and Everett Blake. A lifelong Democrat, John was attracted to politics and in 1970 he was elected to the Virginia House of Delegates. After the death of his first wife in an automobile accident, he married Melissa Beam in 1974. He continued the practice of law and, enjoyed travelling and spending summers on the Outer Banks with the family. In 1979 John’s earlier passions for writing and acting resurfaced and he and his family moved to Beverly Hills, California. John and Melissa both had success in the film and television industry. He appeared in a variety of popular 80’s television shows such as Battlestar Galactica, T.J. Hooker and The Fall Guy. He worked on the other side of the camera as well, writing and collaborating on scripts for a number of shows.
John’s love of the outdoors took him and his family to some of the most breathtaking adventures the natural world has to offer. Together they hiked trails in Yosemite, whitewater rafted down the Grand Canyon, skied Mammoth Mountain, camped under the stars at Joshua Tree, and braved the heat of Death Valley.
The Towler home in California included several extended members of the family. “Cousin Bill,” the son of John’s brother, stayed for several years as did “Aunt Keefie,” the sister of his first wife. Two nephews, Dan and David Loflin shared the Towler home at different times, and there was a parade of artists, actors, fencers and other friends who spent days and weeks as guests.
In 1989 John and Melissa decided they’d fulfilled their California ambitions and were ready for a slightly slower paced life. They moved back across country to the place they loved above all others, the Outer Banks. They found a perfect cottage near the beach in Kitty Hawk, and would later buy a second home off Kitty Hawk Road where they would grow a garden, raise goats, and continue to host countless visitors. They started an innovative advertising business “Eyesoar Graphics” on the beach.
John was a lifelong fan of the Washington Redskins and his loyalty survived the trip to California. He always maintained a passion for scientific discovery and the potential of humanity. He was an ardent supporter of space exploration and environmental conservation, as well as a lifelong fan of visionary science fiction–especially Star Trek. His heroes included Sir Francis Drake, Rachel Carson, Jane Goodall and the Wright Brothers. He was an avid golfer and played into his late 60’s. John worked for the campaigns of every Democratic president from John F. Kennedy to William Jefferson Clinton. He co-managed the Roanoke Jimmy Carter campaign in Virginia in 1976 and went to Iowa for Carter in 1980 to become liaison for the campaign to CBS Network. Through his work in politics, John met a number of people who went on to become life-long friends and remained close to the end. He would have especially liked to have thanked John Garland and Bill Romjue for their friendship and devotion to his family.
John is survived by his devoted spouse, Melissa, his children John Jr. (wife Teuta Towler), Grayson (wife Candi), and Everett (wife Cécile), plus his grandchildren Hayden, Iris, Sara and Erik. He is also survived by his older brother William A. Towler (wife Martha) and his sister-in-law Martha Loflin. His surviving nephews are Bill and Mark Towler and David and Daniel Loflin.
In honor of his wishes there will not be a service. A family memorial will be held at a later date.
In lieu of flowers, donations should be sent to a charity of your choice. The Towler family wishes to thank all the friends and loved ones who have shared their warm wishes, kind thoughts and offers of assistance in this difficult time of his passing. He lived a good life and left those who loved him with fond memories. He helped turn three rambunctious young boys into successful men and was a mentor to friends and family throughout his life. We also wish to thank those he touched in the last months of his life: the attentive nursing staff at Sentara Nursing Center in Barco, NC who worked hard to help John with his physical rehabilitation, and the nurses and doctors who were there with him at the end and who were thoroughly conscientious, patient and professional in his final hours.
One of John’s favorite poets was Robert Frost, and his favorite Frost poem was the Road Less Traveled. It neatly encapsulates the effect that even small choices we make, or don’t make, have on our lives.
The Road Not Taken
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I —
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
Twiford Funeral Home, Manteo is assisting the family with arrangements. Condolences may be expressed at www.twifordfh.com.
Twiford Funeral Home (Manteo)
500 Budleigh Street, PO Box 595
Fax: (252) 473-3392