Henry H. Fowler Biography

Henry Fowler was born in Roanoke County in 1908 and educated in the Roanoke city school system. He continued his formal education at Roanoke College, where he earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in 1929.

At Roanoke, Mr. Fowler showed two sides of his personality: although intensely active, he had a friendly, unassuming, confident demeanor. He played all sports except football, joined Pi Kappa Phi, debated, acted, and edited the College newspaper. His desire continually to challenge the status quo - and to struggle for positive change within the system - emerged as a student leader at Roanoke College and carried over into his professional life. 

After Roanoke, Henry Fowler went on to Yale University where he earned his Doctorate of Law degree in 1933.

He clerked in a Washington law firm, served as an assistant counsel for the Tennessee Valley Authority, and served as chief counsel on a U.S. senatorial civil liberties committee before becoming deeply involved in managing the national war effort in the early 1940s.

"One who by the excellence ... of service at lower levels ... will rise to positions of leadership ... and be called upon to serve other institutions as a leader, director, or trustee."

-Henry H. Fowler

At the conclusion of the war, he became the founding member and senior partner of the Washington law firm of Fowler, Leva, Hayes, and Symington. But government leaders could never leave Mr. Fowler alone for very long. He returned to public service in the early 1950s, culminating in stints at the top of the Defense Production Administration and Office of Defense Mobilization before returning to his private practice in 1953. 

Photo of Henry FowlerAs Henry Fowler entered his sixth decade, his greatest challenges were yet to come. In 1961, President Kennedy appointed him Undersecretary of the Treasury. From 1965-1968, he served President Lyndon Johnson as Secretary of the Treasury, where he presided over the last balanced budget in recent American history. At the helm of one of the most important financial positions in the modern world, Henry Fowler appeared on the cover of Time magazine in September 1965.

After leaving the Treasury, he became partner in the prestigious New York investment firm of Goldman, Sachs, and Company through the early 1980s. From 1977 through 1982, he also served as chairman of the Roanoke College Board of Trustees, where he was an active member continuously from 1954 to the until his death in 2000.

As I look back on my years at Roanoke College, I have come to value most the opportunity the College provided for participation in a many-faceted educational experience. It wasn't a particular course or a special professor that stands out as the predominant influence, although there are courses and professors I remember vividly and treasure to this day. It wasn't the class work or outside study that helped develop a badly needed capacity for analysis, research, and expression. It wasn't the special disciplines learned on the playing field or through activities which I could not have experienced at a large university. It was all of these and many more growth opportunities that Roanoke College offered in a setting where I could get my hands around them. I feel indebted to this very day.
--Henry H. Fowler