Colonel Katherine A. Towle



Colonel Katherine A. Towle, second Director of the United States Marine Corps Women’s Reserve and first Director of Women Marines, died 2 March 1986 at her home in California at the age of 87. She originally came to the Marine Corps from the campus of the University of California at Berkeley.

In her first assignment with the new women’s component, she was named WR representative for Recruit Depot, with the rank of Captain, USMCWR, even before public announcement of the establishment of the Women’s Reserve on 13 February 1943.

Colonel Towle was named Director when her predecessor, Colonel Ruth Cheney Streeter, retired on 7 December 1945. She served in that capacity until June 1946. In August of the same year, when the Women’s Reserve was deactivated, Colonel Towle returned to the University of California as assistant dean of women.

Again, after the Congress had authorized the acceptance of women into the Regular Armed Services, the Marine Corps called upon Colonel Towle to direct this organization. On 4 November 1948, she returned to the Corps to become the first Director of Women Marines after they were constituted a Regular Component. She served as Director until her retirement on 30 April 1953.

After retiring from the Marine Corps, Colonel Towle was associated with the University of California at Berkeley in various capacities: as Dean of Women from 1953 to 1960; as Assistant Dean of Students from 1960 to 1965; as Dean of Students, 1965 to 1966; and later as Dean of Students, Emeritus.

Her military awards include the Legion of Merit and the Navy Commendation Medal.

Marine Corps University