May 17, 2022

Laird Towle, R.I.P.

Laird Charles Towle passed away peacefully at home on April 20, 2022. In 1962 he completed his formal education with a Ph.D. in Physics from the University of Virginia. He worked in that field for twenty years, principally at the Naval Research Laboratory in Washington, D.C.

In 1968 he became seriously interested in genealogical research, later in genealogical book publishing. Laird and his wife, Marlene, founded Heritage Books, Inc. in 1977. Laird soon become well-known throughout the genealogy community.

Twenty-five years later, he sold the business to Craig Scott and settled into retirement; spending his time on his hobbies: genealogy, gardening, traveling, reading, boating, archeology and an appreciation of the arts.

I well remember a conversation I had with Laird many years ago in which he taught me about one of his professional interests: the viscosity of various lubricants in the -400 degree temperatures found in outer space. That was something he had worked on for the space program.

I knew absolutely nothing about that topic at the beginning of the conversation but Laird explained everything in such an interesting manner that I felt I was an expert after listening him talk for about a half hour. I will always remember him for his widespread knowledge and his manner of explaining the driest of topics in an interesting manner.

You can read Laird Towle’s obituary at, although that will not mention the viscosity of lubricants in extreme cold conditions.