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Texas Newspaper Hall of Fame

Ken Towery

Ken Towery
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Ken Towery

Cuero Daily Record

Hall of Fame Class of 2015

A reporter and managing editor of the Cuero Daily Record from 1951 through 1956, Roland Kenneth “Ken” Towery, 91, received a Pulitzer Prize for Local Reporting in 1955 for his series exposing the Texas Veterans Land Board scandal. The series brought to light a multi-tentacled scheme that led to the indictment, conviction and sentencing of long-serving Land Commissioner James Bascom Giles for conspiracy to commit theft.

A collection of Towery’s newspapers and clippings remind Texas General Land Office visitors of the importance of public oversight. The collection resides at the Land Office, where it has been on display since 2003. Towery’s diligence in obtaining independent confirmation of critical facts and care in assembling each story in the series are evident.

Towery, a U.S. Army artilleryman stationed on Corregidor in 1942, was wounded in action, taken prisoner by the Japanese Army and transported to a prison camp in Manchuria. It was there that his fellow prisoners of war entrusted him to be the man to dole out equal portions of gruel, earning him the title, “The Chow Dipper.”

After the prison camp was liberated three years later, Towery was transported home to Texas and hospitalized repeatedly over several years for treatment of a stubborn tuberculosis infection he contracted as a prisoner of war. He wrote a book published in 1994 titled, “The Chow Dipper,” recounting his war experiences and post-war professional life as a civilian.

In 1963, Towery left the newspaper business to serve in various capacities on the staff of U.S. Sen. John Tower. Also, in Washington, D.C., Towery served as a deputy and assistant director of the U.S. Information Agency and as a board member and chairman of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

During his newspaper career in Texas, in addition to his time at Cuero, Towery also served stints as publisher of the Belton Journal, the Crosbyton Review and the Floyd County Hesperian-Beacon in Floydada.