Whitney Tower

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Whitney Tower
BornJune 30, 1923
DiedFebruary 11, 1999 (1999-02-12) (aged 75)
Alma materSt. George's School, Newport
Harvard University
OccupationHorse racing media
President of the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame
Spouse(s)Frances Cheston Train
Joan Baker Spear
Lucy Niblack Lyle
Parent(s)Flora Payne Whitney
Roderick Tower

Whitney Tower (June 30, 1923 – February 11, 1999) was an American journalist reporting on Thoroughbred horse racing and a president of the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame.

Early life[edit]

His father was oil broker Roderick Tower and his mother was Flora Payne Whitney, a child of the prominent Vanderbilt-Whitney marriage. His maternal grandmother, Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney, wife of Harry Payne Whitney, started the Whitney Museum in New York. Whitney Tower's parents divorced and when he was four, his mother remarried to MacCulloch Miller. Tower graduated from St. George's School in Middletown, Rhode Island, and Harvard University.


From 1948 to 1954, Tower worked as a sports reporter for The Cincinnati Enquirer. He then joined the fledgling Sports Illustrated magazine where he served as horse racing editor for twenty-two years during which time he received the National Thoroughbred Racing Association's magazine writing award.

In 1976 Whitney Tower, along with E. Barry Ryan, founded Classic magazine, a publication dedicated to Thoroughbred and Standardbred racing as well as show jumping events. The magazine reported on horse racing matters not only from North America but from around the world as well and won Media Eclipse Awards in 1976-77. Following the magazine's closure, Tower joined the National Museum of Racing in Saratoga Springs, New York, serving as its president from 1982 to 1989 and for ten years was chairman of the Museum's Hall of Fame committee.

Personal life[edit]

Whitney Tower and his first wife, Frances Cheston Train, had four children:

  • Alexandra "Alix" Tower Thorne, formerly married to Daniel Kempner Thorne,[2] also previously married to Jonathan Marshall Hornblower.[3]
  • Whitney Tower Jr.
  • Frances Tower-Thacher, widow of the late construction fraud lawyer, Thomas "Toby" Thacher II.[4]
  • Harry Payne Tower, who married Hilary Harlow.[5][1]

With his third wife, Lucy Niblack Lyle[6] Tower had two more children:

  • Aurora Tower
  • Alfred Tower

In 1968, Tower married Joan Baker Spear, the former wife of Life photographer Eliot Elisofon. Tower spent time writing articles in Aiken, South Carolina, home to the Aiken Steeplechase Association and famous for the flat racing and steeplechase Thoroughbred horses that trained at The Aiken Training Track. He and his wife decided to make Aiken their home and moved into a mansion called Joye Cottage built at the beginning of the 20th century by great-grandfather William Collins Whitney. While living there, the couple became instrumental in the creation of the Aiken Thoroughbred Racing Hall of Fame and Museum.

Whitney Tower was a resident of Saratoga Springs, where he died in 1999 of complications from a stroke. He was survived by his third wife, Lucy Niblack Lyle.[1]

Tower has six grandchildren, all through his first wife, Frances Cheston Train:

  • Josiah Cheston Hornblower, son of his daughter Alexandra Tower Thorne, was featured in the documentary Born Rich.[7]
  • Will Hornblower
  • Frances Thacher
  • Thomas Thacher
  • Whitney Tower III
  • Harry Payne Tower, Jr.


  1. ^ a b c Durso, Joseph (February 12, 1999). "Whitney Tower, 75, Writer And Leader in Horse Racing". The New York Times. Retrieved July 25, 2012.
  2. ^ "Alix Hornblower Becomes a Bride". The New York Times. February 4, 1990. Retrieved July 25, 2012.; Ringle, Ken (January 4, 1997). "THE WOMAN AND THE SEA". The Washington Post. Retrieved July 24, 2017.
  3. ^ "Jo Hornblower Marries Alix Tower". The New York Times. May 30, 1971. Retrieved July 24, 2017.
  4. ^ Roberts, Sam (2017-11-22). "Thomas Thacher, Who Fought Construction Fraud, Dies at 71". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2018-03-03.
  5. ^ "WEDDINGS; Hilary Harlow, Harry P. Tower". The New York Times. October 5, 1997. Retrieved July 31, 2017.
  6. ^ "Lucy Niblack Lyle Wed to Whitney Tower". The New York Times. May 29, 1981. Retrieved July 31, 2017.
  7. ^ "Jocelyn Hunter, Josiah Hornblower". The New York Times. September 9, 2007. Retrieved July 25, 2012.