John G. Tower

John G. Tower Chronology

The protection  of our security, our vital issues abroad, the support of our well-motivated foreign policy objectives, and the continuing quest for freedom are our highest calling. - John G. Tower

1925 Born September 29 in Houston, Texas.
1942 Graduates from Beaumont High School in Beaumont, Texas. 

Enrolls as a student at Southwestern University in Georgetown, Texas.

1943 June, enlists in the U.S. Navy.
1943-1946 Serves aboard amphibious gunboat in the Western Pacific.
1946 March, discharged from Navy with rank of Seaman First Class.
1946-1989 Enlisted officer in the United States Naval Reserve.



Receives B.A. in political science from Southwestern University. 

Radio announcer at station KFDM in Beaumont, Texas 

Radio announcer at country and western radio station KTAE in Taylor, Texas.

1949-1951 Graduate student at Southern Methodist University.
1950-1951 Insurance agent, Dallas, Texas.
1951-1960 Assistant Professor of Political Science at Midwestern State University in Wichita Falls, Texas.
1952 March 21, marries Lou Bullington in Wichita Falls. They have three children: Penny (1954), Marian (1955) and Jeanne (1956). John and Lou are divorced in December 1976.
1952-1953 Does graduate work at the London School of Economics and Political Science of the University of London, including field work on the organization of the Conservative Party in Britain.
1953 Receives M.A. in political science from Southern Methodist University. Master’s thesis entitled, “The Conservative Worker in Britain: Why a Working Man Supports the Tories.”
1954 Runs losing race for Texas State Representative from 81st District.
1956 Texas delegate to the Republican National Convention. Serves as delegate again in 1960, 1964, 1968, 1972, and 1980.
1960 June, resigns his position at Midwestern State University to run against Lyndon B. Johnson for U.S. Senate in the November general election. Johnson wins the Senate seat, but he also wins election as Vice-President. When Johnson resigns the Senate seat, William Blakely is appointed to fill the position until a special election, required by Texas law, can be held.
1961 On April 4, leads a field of 70 candidates in the Special Senate Election. On May 27, wins runoff election. Takes office on June 15, becoming the first Republican senator elected from Texas since 1870, the third in the history of the state, and the first from a southern state since Reconstruction. At the age of 35, is the youngest senator in the 87th Congress.

Named Kappa Sigma Man of the Year.

 1961-1964 Serves on Labor and Public Welfare Committee 

John G. Tower - Parents


The senator with his parents, Dr. Joe Z. and Beryl Goodwin Tower, at the Tower family farm near Douglasville, Texas in 1966.

1961-1984 Serves on Banking and Currency Committee, later called Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee, 1971-1985.
1962, 1969-1984 Serves on Senate Republican Policy Committee.
1962-1963 Member of National Republican Senatorial Committee. Also a member from 1969-1970 and 1973-1974.
1962 Writes book,  A Program for Conservatives , with a foreword by Barry Goldwater (McFadden, 1962).
1963-1977 Serves on the Joint Committee on Defense Production.
1964 Receives honorary Doctor of Literature degree from Southwestern University.
1965-1984 Serves on Senate Armed Services Committee.
1966 Wins election to second term as U.S. Senator by margin of 56.7 percent, or approximately 200,000 votes. Wins one-third of the Mexican-American vote in Texas.
1968 Named Distinguished Alumnus of Southwestern University.
1968-1991 Member of Southwestern University’s Board of Trustees.
1969-1970 Chairs National Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee.
1972 Wins re-election to a third term as U.S. Senator. Campaign directed by Nola Smith, one of the few women to head a major campaign at this time.
1973-1984 Chairs Senate Republican Policy Committee.
1975 Southwestern University inaugurates the Tower-Hester Chair of Political Science.
1975-1976 Vice-Chairman of Select Committee to Study Governmental Operations with Respect to Intelligence Activities (Church Committee).
1977 May, marries Lilla Burt Cummings. They are divorced in 1987.
1977-1979 Member of the Select Committee on Ethics.



Member of the Rules and Administration Committee.
1978 Wins re-election to fourth term as U.S. Senator.
1980 Chairs National Republican Platform Committee.
1981-1984 Chairs the Senate Armed Services Committee.
1983 August 23, announces plans to retire from the Senate in a news conference at the state capitol in Austin, Texas.

John G. Tower - Travis

Reading Colonel Travis’ letter from the Alamo at the annual Texas Independence Day celebration, 1984.

1985 January 3, retires from the United States Senate. 

January 18, named by President Ronald Reagan to serve as Chief U.S. Negotiator with the rank of ambassador at the Strategic Arms Reduction Talks with the former Soviet Union in Geneva.

1986 April, resigns post as U.S. Negotiator to enter private business. 

November, appointed by President Reagan to chair the President’s Special Review Board (also known as the Tower Commission) to study the role and functions of the National Security Council and NSC staff during the Iran-Contra Affair.

1986-1988 Distinguished lecturer in political science at Southern Methodist University.
1987 “Report of the President’s Special Review Board” issued February 26.
1987-1991 Serves on President’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board. Chairman of Tower, Eggers and Greene Consulting, Inc., Dallas and Washington.
1988 Nominated by President Bush to be Secretary of Defense.
January-March, Secretary of Defense Senate confirmation hearings. March, nomination rejected by the Senate. 

Retires from U.S. Naval Reserve with rank of Master Chief Boatswain’s Mate.

1990 July, appointed by President Bush to chair the President’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board.
1991 February, autobiography,  Consequences: A Personal and Political Memoir
 (Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1991), is published. 

April 5, Senator Tower dies in a commuter plane crash near New Brunswick, Georgia, which also kills his daughter, Marian.