“Deacon” Dan Towler, a two-time all-state football player at Donora High School who went on to become an All-American at Washington & Jefferson College and an All-Pro with the Los Angeles Rams in the NFL, will be honored in his hometown Friday when a street is named in his honor.
The current Washington Alley will be renamed “Deacon” Dan Towler Way during a ceremony beginning at 2 p.m.
“Washington Alley begins at the intersection of the Second Street Extension and it runs past the former Donora High School,” said Greg Pandrock, who helped organization the movement to honor Towler.
Towler was a four-sport standout at Donora High School and led the Dragons to undefeated seasons and WPIAL football championships in 1944 and 1945. The 1945 Donora team outscored its opponents 297-13 and is considered among the best ever from the WPIAL.
Towler’s athletic prowess got him noticed by W&J, where in 1948 he scored 133 points, which was third-best in the nation.
As a 6-2, 225-pound fullback, Towler was a 25th-round draft pick of the Rams in 1950. Towler burst onto the national scene in 1951, when he rushed for 854 yards – averaging 6.8 yards per carry – and set the Rams’ single-season rushing record. The Rams won the league championship that season and Towler was named MVP of the Pro Bowl.
Towler led the NFL with 894 rushing yards in 1952 and gained 879 in 1953. He walked away from football after six NFL seasons to pursue a career as a minister. Towler rushed for 3,493 yards in his career and scored 43 touchdowns in only 67 games.
Following his football career, Towler was pastor of Lincoln Avenue Methodist Church in Pasadena, Calif., for a decade. He also was president of the Los Angeles County Board of Education.
Towler was born in 1928 and died in August of 2001.