Katherine Amelia Towle was born in California on April 30, 1898 in Towle, California named after her ancestors who settled there in the 1850s. Katherine pursued much of her higher education at UC Berkeley where she earned her B.A. and M.A. in political science. After receiving her degrees, Katherine worked and obtain a leave of absence when the Marine Corps came around.
Katherine joined the U.S. Marine Corps Women’s Reserve becoming one of the first women officers in the Marine Corps. She rose through the ranks becoming a Colonel in December 1945 and the second Director of the Women’s Reserve succeeding Ruth Cheney Streeter. However, in June 1946, the Women’s Reserve was deactivated and Katherine returned to work for the University of California.
On June 12, 1948, the Women’s Armed Forces Integration Act was passed and the Women’s Reserve was integrated as permanent regular members of the armed forces. With the passage of this act, Katherine was asked to return to the Marine Corps as the Director of Women Marines. She served as the Director until her mandatory retirement in 1953.
She returned to UC Berkeley as Dean of Women from 1953-1960 and joined many other clubs and organizations like the American Association of University Women, the Women’s Faculty Club, the National Association of Deans of Women, and etc.
Katherine earned several awards during her military service including the Legion of Merit, Navy Commendation Medal, American Campaign Medal, and a World War II Victory Medal.
Katherine passed away on March 2, 1986 at the age of 87.
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