KILMARNOCK—W. Sibley Towner died May 23, 2018, at his home in Kilmarnock. Born in Scottsbluff, Neb., January 10, 1933, “Sib,” grew up there and matriculated to Yale College, New Haven, Conn., where he earned a bachelor’s.
Upon graduation, Sibley Towner traveled to Sidon, Lebanon, for a three-year teaching job at Gerard Institute, a Presbyterian mission school. In Lebanon, he met and married Jane Miller, teacher at Sidon School for Girls. Married for 61 years, the couple has two daughters, Ann and Hope. Also surviving, are a sister, Karen Slotta, a sister-in-law, Carol Johnson-Miller, and five nieces and nephews.
Sibley Towner returned to Yale University, earning a Master of Divinity, Master of Arts and PhD degrees in biblical studies. He also studied at Hebrew University, Jerusalem; Oxford University, England; and the University at Tubingen, Germany. He was ordained to the ministry of the United Presbyterian Church in 1969.
Dr. Towner first taught at Princeton Seminary, N.J., Yale, and University of Dubuque, Iowa, where he served as dean of the seminary, but the majority of his career was as professor of Biblical interpretation, Old Testament, with a term as dean, at Union Presbyterian Seminary, Richmond. Retiring in 2002, he continued to teach as adjunct professor emeritus at Union until his health failed.
Dr. Towner published five books, some of which are translated into Korean, Japanese and Italian. He wrote for professional journals and books, and often led workshops, preached and lectured at churches and educational institutions in the U.S., Canada, Korea and Europe. He was awarded an honorary doctorate by Coe College, Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and a book by his colleagues honored him at retirement. Recently, Union published a book of his prayers. Dr. Towner’s extensive biography is on file at Yale University.
Sibley Towner believed that in life and death, we belong to God; he donated his body to VA Anatomical Program, “even in death one serves the living.” A memorial service will be held at St. Andrews Presbyterian Church, Kilmarnock, at 2 p.m. Saturday, June 30.
Memorial gifts may be sent to a nonprofit of choice, to Union Presbyterian Seminary, 3401 Brook Rd., Richmond, VA 23227, or to the Parkinson’s Program at Rappahannock Westminster-Canterbury, 132 Lancaster Dr., Irvington, VA 22480.