During the 1940s, while Clarence Robert “Bob” Tower was a student at Santa Clara High School, he worked at Hale’s department store in downtown San Jose. The hiring manager asked what name he preferred to be called. Tower didn’t care for the name Clarence so he asked to be called “Bob.” Today, this Santa Clara resident is still known to many as “Bob.”
In his later years, Tower worked as a land surveyor and civil engineer. Because the descriptions he wrote while performing those jobs had to be precise, he was able to cultivate his writing abilities. Today Tower is an accomplished author of five books (and an visual artist with a portfolio of over 400 pieces of art).
“I think there’s a need to accomplish something,” says Tower, explaining the motivation behind his writing and art. “I just like to get things done.”
Back in 2002, Tower’s first book “Seventy Years in the Silicon Valley: An Anecdotal History” was published. In the book, Tower talks about Silicon Valley’s early history.
“For example, I talk about the bonfires they used to have at pre-game rallies when Santa Clara University teams competed against other schools,” Tower says. “I talk about the orchards and open fields here prior to development.”
Next, Tower wrote “The Toughest Chicano” about Super Bowl quarterback and former U.C. Berkeley coach Joe Kapp. The book hasn’t been published, but that didn’t stop Tower from moving on to write “The Adventures of Zack Gentry.” Published in 2012, the Western novel reflects Tower’s curiosity about time travel.
“In one scene near the end of the book, the entire party of Buffalo Bill’s extravaganza is spread out at the beach near the Cliff House in San Francisco,” Tower says. “Here, Zack rediscovers his long lost lover.”
Tower’s fourth book is a picture book called “The Life of a Teddy Bear Family,” published in 2013. Here, Tower recognizes his late wife Nadine and members of her family, such as Uncle Earl, the artist and butterfly collector, and Uncle Donald, the wood carver. Featured family members are portrayed as fuzzy teddy bears. The illustrations are a compilation of about 40 years of Tower’s art work.
“The book is mostly about my wife’s family; she grew up in the Ozarks in Missouri,” Tower says. “I knew those facts about her family from years of living with her. Nadine passed away in 1989.”
Tower was the primary author who worked with co-author Ken Lichtenstein on “Legendary Locals of Santa Clara,” published in 2014. The book offers blurbs about Santa Clara’s movers and shakers, past and present. Historical names profiled include James Lick, once the richest man in California, and the Frederick Lass family, whose home is now a historic house museum. Local personalities from the present include hairdresser and philanthropist Emma Kaliterna, former local history librarian Mary Hanel and current mayor Lisa Gillmor. Also featured is Nancy Wilson, former business owner and Tower’s lifetime partner.
“It took a solid year to do the research, writing and compilation of material for this book.” Tower says. “Carol McCarthy, retired assistant city manager, was instrumental in helping me put together some of the local stories.”