BOWLING GREEN, Ky. — Carlisle Towery, Western Kentucky University’s first two-time All-American, died Sunday, November 25, at his home in Marion, Ky. He was 92 years old.
“Big Boy” Towery was Hilltopper athletics’ second All-America selection, earning that elite honor as a junior basketball standout in 1940 and then repeating as a senior in 1941. Playing for the legendary E.A. Diddle, he was the first Hilltopper to score 1,000 points, totaling 1,010 in his three-year varsity career. In the 71 years since, only 44 other Hilltopper athletes have reached that lofty plateau.
The three Hilltopper teams he played on won 68 of 81 games, an 84% success ratio — 22-3 in 1938-39; 24-6 in 1939-40; and 22-4 in 1940-41. A two-time all-conference pick by both the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Association (SIAA) and the Kentucky Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (KIAC), he was a major factor on three SIAA championship teams (1939, 1940 and 1941) and two KIAC title clubs (1939 and 1940). He averaged 10.6 points per game as sophomore, 13.8 as a junior and a then-school record 17.1 as a senior.
Towery was inducted into the WKU Athletic Hall of Fame in 1993, and a retired jersey with his name and number (42) is one of just six hanging in the rafters of E.A. Diddle Arena in honor of Hilltopper men’s basketball student-athletes and coaches.
He also enjoyed an outstanding career in professional basketball, playing for the legendary Fort Wayne Zollner Pistons of the National Basketball League. He played three seasons with the Pistons before entering military service in World War II, where he earned a Bronze Star. Towery returned to the Pistons after the war and was with the club when it joined the Basketball Association of America, the modern NBA, in 1948. He later played with the Indianapolis Jets and the Baltimore Bullets.
Towery is survived by a daughter, Nancy Brock, of Marion, Ky.; three sons, Bill Towery of Marion, Clark Towery of Scottsville, Ky., and Rob Towery of Marion; a brother, Shellie Elmo Towery of Wichita Falls, Texas; and 11 grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.
Memorial services will be held at 1:00 PM (CT), Saturday, December 1, at Myers Funeral Home in Marion. Visitation will begin at the funeral home at 11:00 AM before the service.