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Katherine A. Towle, UC Dean, Officer in Marines

March 08, 1986

Katherine A. Towle, the first woman dean of students at the University of California, Berkeley, and the second commandant of the Marine Corps Women's Reserve, is dead at the age of 87.

Miss Towle had been a patient in a Berkeley-area rest home for several years. She died there last Saturday, it was learned Thursday.

Miss Towle interrupted her academic career in World War II to serve as a Marine captain and in December, 1945, succeeded Col. Ruth Streeter, the first commandant of women Marines, who had resigned. She was promoted to colonel and recalled to the command when the women's corps re-formed in 1948.

In 1953, she returned to the UC campus as dean of women, while keeping her Marine Reserve status. She became dean of students in 1961 and three years later signed a campus edict against political activism that ignited the tumultuous Free Speech movement on campus.

While the policy was not hers, she considered it her job to enforce it.

A native of Towle, a railroad station built to serve a lumber mill owned by her grandfather, Allen Towle, Miss Towle earned a bachelor's degree at the University of California in 1920, and a master's degree in political science in 1925.

She joined the UC faculty as a teaching fellow in political science in 1932 after serving as administrator and later headmistress of the Miss Ransom and Miss Bridges School for Girls in Piedmont for five years.

Miss Towle also was a past president of the National Assn. of Women Deans and Counselors and a director of the American Red Cross. She held the Navy Commendation Medal and the Legion of Merit.

She is survived by a sister, Alleen Bullitt of La Mesa.

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