Dr. Clarence Towns Jr.
The Last of the Greatest Generation
Dr. Clarence Towns, Jr. 's spirit left us on June 9, 2022 in Indianapolis, Indiana. His life began in Little Rock, Arkansas on July 22, 1916 as the son of Clarence Towns Sr. and Bessie Baskin Towns. During his 105 years, Clarence witnessed some of the most historic moments in US history – including two World Wars, the Great Depression, the Jim Crow south, the Black migration to the North, the atomic bomb, the first man in space and on the moon, the assasination of a young president, the martyrdom of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., the first African American on the Supreme Court, Brown v. Board of Education, Roe v. Wade, Joe Louis, Jackie Robinson, Fritz Pollard and the first Black President of the United States. Despite growing up in the segregated South where Black men had little opportunity, Clarence’s work ethic helped support his family at the young age of 10.
The Towns family migrated to Chicago where Clarence successfully navigated the segregated Chicago Public school
system. Clarence was motivated by others in his “great generation” who were not deterred by the challenges of
racism and segregation, but forged ahead and earned higher education degrees, becoming professionals and entrepreneurs that invested back into Black communities. Clarence attended the University of Illinois Dental
school as the only African American in his entire school, through matriculation. In 1945, he married the love of his life, Eleanor Pollard, the daughter of football legend, Fritz Pollard. In 1946, Eleanor and Clarence
welcomed a son, Stephen Towns, on the same day that Dr. Clarence was opening his first dental practice. As the story goes, upon receiving notice of his son’s delivery, Clarence turned to the equipment delivery man and announced with great zeal that he was a new father. The equipment deliverer exclaimed, “Doc, you got two liabilities in one day!” The family welcomed their daughter, Stephany, in 1951, and Clarence and Eleanor would have celebrated 75 years of marriage, in 2020, the year that Eleanor preceded him in death.
Dr. Clarence always had a zest for life and learning. After practicing several years, he returned to the University of Illinois and completed his specialty training in Endodontics, becoming one of the few African American Endodontists in the US in 1955. He also earned his Masters of Science degree in Histology, at University of Illinois, Chicago (UIC) and taught Histology at the UIC School of Dentistry for over thirty years.
His teaching style was noted for making difficult material simple and understandable with his legendary” Flow Charts”. As an avid runner, his true passion in life was running marathons (Chicago, Boston, and New York) which he continued to compete in well into his late eighties. He was a member of Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity for 82 years and was a recipient of the “Distinguished Alumnus” award from the University of Illinois College of dentistry in 2008. He was also a retired Lieutenant Colonel in the army reserve. Fond memories will be shared by many that he mentored throughout the years. Let us honor him by continuing his legacy and by being the best we can be.
Dr. Clarence was preceded in life by his parents, sisters, Magnolia Williams, Orpha Johnson and Bessie Walters,
brothers, Victor, Clifton and Herbert. He is survived by his brother Charles, Sun Lakes, Arizona, sisters, Saundra Rowel, Eden Prairie, Minnesota, Sharon Jadeja, Hazel Crest, Illinois Son, Dr. Stephen Towns, Indianapolis, Indiana, Daughter, Stephany Towns, Indianapolis, Indiana, Daughter-in-law, Dr. Jeanette Sabir-Holloway, Indianapolis, Indiana, Grandson, Geoffrey Holloway, Indianapolis, Indiana, Granddaughter, Jenae Holloway, New York City, New York, Great-granddaughter, Zora Holloway, Indianapolis, In.