Founder's Statement & History
Elizabeth Nelson Clarke was born in Mt. Vernon, New York, in 1920, and Peter Tower in Niagara Falls, New York, in 1921. They met while attending Cornell University and married in the summer of '42. Two daughters, Mollie and Cynthia, were born in 1944 and 1947.
Peter entered the Army Air Force in January 1943 and was discharged in 1946 after service in Texas and Europe. He hoped to find work in the fledgling air transport business that he expected to thrive. He took a "temporary" job clerking for C. J. Tower and Sons, a very small customhouse broker partnership organized by his grandfather and his three sons. In 1986 the corporation that subsequently evolved processed a total of $45 billion worth of merchandise. Peter then sold the business to McGraw-Hill Inc. who later sold it to Federal Express Company, which utilizes Tower skills and systems worldwide.
Meanwhile, Liz had become a notable artist. Since her youth, Liz was interested in art and studied it at Cornell. She went on working, mostly in oils, and her works were displayed in numerous shows. More than 500 of her paintings in oil, acrylic, plus collages were sold in places she frequented, as well as the Midwest, California, and as far away as Japan.
True to other personal philosophies, Peter and Liz knew that with prosperity came responsibility. Their desire was to assure that the resources they had acquired over the years were put to good use and to see the benefits spread among many.
The Peter and Elizabeth C. Tower Foundation was formed December 31, 1990. Initially the Trustees chose this Foundation's primary focus to support scientific research into the causes, cures, treatments, and prevention of severe mental illnesses, primarily the schizophrenias and the depressions, especially as they relate to younger persons.
In recent years, the Foundation has expanded its funding reach to several of the communities where Trustees reside. Foundation support is given to non-profit organizations in Erie and Niagara Counties in Western New York and in Barnstable, Dukes, Essex and Nantucket Counties in Eastern Massachusetts.