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Our Founders

Peter and Liz Tower

Peter Tower was born in Niagara Falls, NY, in 1921; Elizabeth Nelson Clarke was born in Mt. Vernon, NY, in 1920. The two met at Cornell University and married in 1942. Their two daughters, Mollie and Cynthia, were born in 1944 and 1947.

Peter entered the Army Air Forces in 1943 and, after serving as an air traffic controller in Texas and England, returned to Western New York with an interest in the fledgling air transport business. Peter took a "temporary" job clerking for C. J. Tower & Sons, a small customs brokerage house started by his grandfather and his three sons.

A partner by 1950, Peter took the company through three and a half successful decades. C.J. Tower & Sons was the first customs broker in the country to use IBM computers to manage customs data. When Peter sold the company to McGraw-Hill, Inc. in 1986, it was handling goods valued at $45 billion dollars annually. McGraw-Hill later sold the company to Federal Express Co., which uses Tower-developed systems to this day.

Liz Tower's passion was painting. Over a long career as an artist, Liz sold over 500 paintings, exhibited frequently, and won awards for her work. Liz's studio was an important place in the Tower household. Liz experimented with different media and artistic styles, but is best known for the organic abstraction of her landscapes and geometrically vibrant still lifes. [see Logo and Artwork]

Peter and Liz were generous community supporters long before they created The Peter and Elizabeth C. Tower Foundation in 1990. The Foundation is the realization of their vision to better the lives of young people today and for years to come.