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Dr. James MC Towers

December 6, 2021 | 2 comments

Dr. James Mc Towers, December 3, 1948 – November 30, 2021

Dr. James M. Towers, age 72, of Onalaska, WI, left this realm for the next on November 30, 2021, three days before his 73rd birthday. James—known to his friends and family as Jim—had the incredible ability to make people laugh. Whether to entertain his siblings, his students or just a stranger sitting next to him on a plane, Jim pointed out the absurdity of life through wit, sarcasm and a slapstick exaggeration of anything human. Sometimes, to both the delight and embarrassment of his family members, he would “accidentally” walk into walls and smack his nose on a door frame . Children, of course, adored him. Anyone who was uptight and overly concerned with politeness might have been, well, confused. He didn’t care.  Everyone who knew Jim referred to him as “a character,” but he was more than just an eccentric. He was deeply intelligent, kind, well-read, a world traveler, an amateur guitarist, a fan of jelly-filled donuts and The Beatles, and a philosopher of life. He was, and is, so loved. 

Born in Ames and raised in Wyoming, Iowa, Jim was the first child in a close-knit family of six siblings, born to Charles Mac Towers and Mary Elizabeth “Betty” Towers. He graduated from Midland High School in 1966, where he was a class clown, an athlete and a thoughtful student. After earning a bachelor’s degree at the University of Iowa in 1970, Jim taught at an alternative high school in Australia, before obtaining a PhD in Higher Education from the University of Iowa in 1980. He moved with his family to Winona, Minnesota in 1988, to work at Saint Mary’s University where he taught as a professor and served as the Dean of Education until his retirement in May of 2014.  Jim was passionate about the power of education, helping redefine and enhance the role of teachers, and invigorating new generations of young people who were studying to become educators. In the later stages of his life, Jim enjoyed escaping Midwestern winters by flying to Costa Rica for a week with his loved ones. He always talked about how stunning the sunsets were; he also loved a good buffet. 

He is survived by his siblings, Mark, Greg “Charlie,” David, Jon and Janet. Jim is also survived by his two beloved children, Devon and Jaimee, his partner, Patricia “Pat” Kohner, his sisters-in-law, Verle, Margaret and Sue, his brother-in-law, John, as well as numerous nieces and nephews. Jim was preceded in death by his first wife, Karen Laurd-Towers, and he joins his parents in the afterlife—his mother, Betty, just recently passed and we know she’ll be waiting right there for him.  

Jim made people laugh until they cried; his family will remember him in a similar way by shedding tears, sharing funny stories and honoring him—always—with their memories. We were all so lucky to have known him.



  1. john hagen

    So sorry. Will miss Jim, my brother in-law. He was a great guy and my heart goes out to his family. Peace in heaven.

  2. Michael Fonda

    I met Jim when we were both Freshmen at Coe College. All of the men on the second floor of Armstrong Hall benefited from knowing him: The Savage, The Wop, The Bird, Brian Battans “Bananas” Black III, John C. Healy, Jr, and Josh Resnek. Without “The Hick” (as Jim was known to us), our lives would have been far less interesting. Jim was born in Wyoming, Iowa and passed from this world in Mabel, MN. He was the quintessential Midwesterner. Jim traveled the world, collecting friendships and accumulating knowledge wherever he touched down, but he never lost touch with his roots. I miss him and will never forget him.


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