The Rev. Dr. Edgar A. Towne, Indianapolis, died on April 13, 2018, at the age of 90. He was born in Albany, NY, February 27, 1928 to Arthur B. Towne and Margaret Shug Towne, and grew up in Dunkirk, NY, where he became an Eagle Scout and where his father had a successful law practice. He is predeceased by his first wife, Sarah Wright Towne, their daughter Mary Michal, and their grandson, Isaac Courtney Towne. At the time of his death he was Professor Emeritus of Theology at Christian Theological Seminary, where he had taught since 1975. He was educated at The College of Wooster, Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, and the University of Chicago. An ordained minister of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), Mr. Towne was a pastor in the Mountaineer Mining Mission in West Virginia, and pastor of the Hyde Park Union Church, Chicago. He learned to fly in West Virginia and received his private pilot's license in Chicago. He was a member, and twice President, of the American Theological Society (Midwest Division), a member of the Highlands Institute for American Religious and Philosophical Thought, The Society of Christian Ethics, the American Academy of Religion, and the Reformed Roundtable of the Synod of Lincoln Trails. He is the author of one book, 71 articles, and 41 book reviews. In Indianapolis he was a member of the boards of the Damien Center, the Indianapolis Peace and Justice Center, and of the Indiana Information Center on the Abolition of Capital Punishment. In 2002 he received the Robert Risk Award from the ACLU of Indiana. Mr. Towne is survived by his wife, freelance writer and author Marian K. Towne, his sons, Stephen, Jonathan, Nathan, stepson Karl Kaufman, and six grandchildren. A memorial service will be held on Saturday, April 28, 2018 at 1pm at Fairview Presbyterian Church, 4609 N. Capitol Ave.
Ed was such a gentle, loving, kind, always smiling, happy soul. I was fortunate to help Ed with his book. When my daughter was diagnosed with cancer and decided to dye her hair purple before she lost it all, we had a purple dying party- Ed was one of the many who came to the salon and got a purple streak. In his white hair it was striking and he just smiled. For his support in that way, our family can smile whenever we think of Ed. If only this world had more Ed's it would be a wonderful place to be. Ed made this world, and everyone he touched, better for knowing him.
Ed was an ecumenical Christian, a faithful supporter of the Presbyterian church, a sound seminary teacher and scholar, and a real gentleman. My wife Cheryl and I are privileged to have known him here in Indianapolis. Whenever we first came to Indy, he was welcoming and hospitable to both of us. We are sorry to see that he has passed. Were there only more like him! Blessings to Marian in her loss and to his son Stephen and the rest of the family.
Ed was a great man. I am so glad to have known him. The photo of Ed in the obituary nicely captures the joy and peace he radiated. He will be missed. Jim Dougans
Please accept my sincere condolences. During my early years as a U of Chicago grad student in the Divinity School, I met Ed when he was senior minister of Hyde Park Union Church. He was inevitably kind to me, and continued to be a remarkably benevolent friend when I became a colleague at CTS, and more recent times, which were not easy for many. I'm sorry not to be available for the memorial service, as I'm in the early stages of recovery from hip replacement surgery. I'm with you in spirit--Marion and others. Frank Burch Brown, Prof. Emeritus of Religion and the Arts, Christian Theological Seminary
It was the early 70's when I was a student at CTS. I still retain fond memories of class with Dr. Towne. My sympathy to Marian and the rest of the family. Kent Grimes, Class of '72
The greatest treasure of my seminary experience was seeing Dr. Towne bow before us before starting his lecture. It caught me off guard the first time, but as he kept doing it I felt his honesty in that gesture. It was a humbling experience. I asked him to preach at my ordination. I felt privileged to learn from this kind man. His legacy lives on. Neil W Allen
Rev. Dr. Sam Young on April 18, 2018
I wish to express my deepest sympathy to the family of Dr. Ed Towne. I had the privilege of working with Dr. Towne as his Graduate Assistant in the Department of Theology at CTS in the early 70's. I admired his intellect and the gracious manner in which he interacted with students and faculty. He was a man of faith with an endearing smile. I am grateful for his life. He was a significant influence in my ministry. Rev. Dr. Sam Young, Retired Pastor, Huntington, indiana
I am deeply sorry for your loss. Your husband/father was a theological and spiritual mentor of mine, unfailingly kind but never easy. I am grateful for his life and confident that he is held safely in God. Sincerely yours, Barbara Shires Blaisdell, Senior Pastor, First Christian Church, Tacoma, WA
I am expressing my deepest sympathy and lifting prayers for the family. Dr. Towne was one of my professors at Christian Theological Seminary in Indianapolis. His leadership was essential in the development of my ministry. I guess if I want to limit my experience of Dr. Towne to one thing it would be he always had a smile on his face, very much like the photo shown here. May God be with you as this Dr. Towne becomes one of the cloud of saints which have developed minds for service to God's church. ----Much peace, Rev. Dr. Brooks Barrick
I first met Dr. Towne when he was a visiting professor at CTS back in the early 70s. My theology classes had all been with the Catholic Seminary Foundation, but I took one theology course from Dr. Towne. He probably was the main reason that I remained a Protestant as a result of my seminary education! He made theology understandable, alive, and relevant. I am thankful for his gracious instruction and fine example of Christian witness. Rev. Dr. Thomas R . Jewell, Class of 1974
I am saddened to learn of the loss of Ed Towne. I came to know Ed, Marion and Steve as friends and fellow members of Fairview Presbyterian Church. I admired Ed's intellect, humility and faith. He was a treasure to the congregation, and a blessing in the many ways he contributed to the Body.
I am sad that I am unable to attend the memorial service for Ed, however I will always remember as a scholar, an educator and loyal friend. I enjoyed our time we spent at the Reformed Roundtable. May you family and friends be blessed with the healing presence of the Spirit.
I was present for Dr. Towne's inaugural address to the CTS community. At a time when I struggled with classical doctrine, his words and scholarship opened the way for my life-long affirmation of trinitarian belief. As one of the few Presbyterian students at the seminary, I was and will always be grateful for this counsel and care. Ed Towne's advice came back to me amid a time of prayerful consideration of a call to a conflicted church, as though his words gave voice to God's own response to my appeal. Lastly, he told me a story from his days as a grad student that I have repeated many times, about how you have to "trust the system." As an illustration of Reformed theology, the story ranks, for me, right along with those of Calvin, Edwards and Barth. He remains a part of all that he has met. Joseph Ward, Raleigh, NC
Ed and Marian attended a bible study I led at American Village until a few months ago. Ed always contributed to our discussion and made it better. He was such a thoughtful and kind man. Ruth Chadwick Moore
Dr. Towne was one of my favorite professors at Christian theological seminary. It taught in a way that could be easily understood and yet challenged is to be open to questioning and rediscovery of what we understood theologically and ethically . Thank you for sharing this man with us. Anne Girton kumeh
Marian - my prayers are with you and the family. Ed will be missed in many ways and by many people. It was always exciting to see the two of you when I was in town or on campus. I still remember our connection through a common mentor at McCormick in Chicago, Marshall Scott. May God's shalom be with you and the family in the days ahead.
Ed was a mentor and friend. I am very sorry to miss the memorial service, because I will be out of town. Ed was my adviser and teacher at CTS. We were friends through UChicago Alumni Club. He was kind, gentle, thoughtful, knowledgeable, wise, and just a good person. I will dearly miss him.
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