A public remembrance of Marie’s life will be held on Monday, June 30 at 6:00 p.m. at The Old Mill, 1120 Old Mill Road, San Marino.
She had many names – her obituary offers Marie Therese Kreuper Crowley as those to be placed at the top of the list – but to generations of San Marinans, her calling card was ‘class.’
‘Mom,’ ‘GrandMarie,’ the First Lady of San Marino, friend to all, Mrs. Crowley passed away of natural causes last Thursday afternoon in Arcadia. She was 85.
“Joining Paul,” noted longtime friend Winnie Reitnouer in acknowledging her longtime friend’s passing, referencing Marie’s late husband and former Mayor Paul Crowley, who passed away in December, 2012.
“Ever positive, smiling, conversant, thoughtful, Marie was a builder,” Reitnouer continued in free verse. “And what she built was you! Your image, personality, accomplishments, families were enhanced in conversations with Marie, not her own. A dose of Marie was far better than any prescription for whatever might ail you. Kind words, thoughtful little gifts, happy-to-see you smiles that lit up her face, these things will never ‘pass away’ or be forgotten by those fortunate enough to have known Marie Crowley.”
A native of Alhambra, Marie was the daughter of a carpenter and a homemaker. She was born at Queen of Angels Hospital in Los Angeles to Alfred Frederick Kreuper of St. Louis and Helen Anna (Asman) Kreuper of Terre Haute, Indiana. Her three siblings were Francis (Fran), John (Jack), and Paul (died during birth). Marie’s aunt, Sister Clarissa (Marie) Asman, Sisters of St. Francis, was a major influence in Marie’s life. When Marie’s mother fell ill in childbirth, it was Sister Clarissa who arranged for her to attend Stella Niagara Seminary in Niagara Falls at the age of six.
Marie later attended All Souls Catholic School in Alhambra and Ramona Convent High School in Alhambra, where she graduated as a member of the Class of 1946. On to Immaculate Heart College in Los Angeles, graduating with honors in 1950 with a B.S. in Chemistry and a minor in Mathematics. Marie was the first person in her family to attend college.
She was a member of the Kappa Gamma Delta sorority and paid her way through college by working at several jobs, including a stint as a sales clerk at The Broadway in downtown Los Angeles.
After graduation, Marie took a job at Aerojet in Azusa. She married the aforementioned Charles (Paul) Crowley, Jr. of Alhambra on September 29, 1951. The couple lived in Alexandria, Virginia for three years while Paul served in the U.S. Army at Ft. Belvoir, Virginia.
During this time, Marie worked at the U.S. Department of Agriculture headquarters in Washington, D.C. as an agricultural chemist.
The Crowleys returned to San Gabriel’s Oak Lane in 1955. True to her education, Marie worked at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory as a chemist, in advent of the Jupiter-C rocket and America’s first satellite, Explorer I, in 1958. She later taught Chemistry, History and English at San Gabriel Mission High School.
Marie and Paul moved to San Marino, Melville Dr. and Winston Ave. in 1961, where Paul later became a City Councilman and Mayor while serving just about every organization in town while Marie raised their two children. An active civic volunteer, she was a member – and often treasurer – of the San Marino Tennis Club, the San Marino Historical Society, the San Marino Girl Scouts Troops 436 and 439, Crown Guild, the Assistance League of Pasadena, Christ Child Society of Pasadena, Auxiliary of the Pregnancy Help Center of the SGV, Ladies of Charity of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, USC Norris Cancer Center and Hospital Auxiliary, Luminaires, the Nine O’Clock Players, the Old Mill Foundation, the Immaculate Heart College Alumni Assn., Ramona Convent Alumni Assn., the Huntington Library and the San Marino Unified School District PTA and PTSA.
Marie was also a Catholic CCD teacher, Little League scorekeeper, Cub Scout Den Mother, and Eagle Scout mother. She was a volunteer for the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles. Marie and Paul were longtime parishioners of Saints Felicitas & Perpetua Catholic Church in San Marino, and were members of the San Gabriel Country Club.
Athletically, she enjoyed tennis, golf (or a reasonable facsimile thereof, according to her playing partners), running, parasailing and bridge throughout her life. Considering her education “never completed,” Mrs. Crowley took several supplemental academic courses at CSULA and Pasadena City College – the last at the age of 83.
She was a fixture at the many athletic events of her grandchildren, often attending as many as three in a day – camera in tow, to record the events for time and eternity. She frequently occupied the same front-row seat at Titan Stadium.
Marie served as the corporate treasurer for the 82 year-old family engineering business, the Charles P. Crowley Company of Irwindale until shortly before her death. She belonged to several stock and bond investment groups, and was known for her love of mathematics and her financial acumen. She also travelled to all 50 U.S. states, all of the Canadian provinces and territories, every country in the western Hemisphere and more than 100 countries worldwide during her life.
Life on the move sparked some of the more beloved memories of Marie.
“Once the Crowleys safari-camped on the Serengeti with friends, Paul sometimes staying in their tent while Marie joined others in Land Rovers to find and photograph the animals,” recalls Ken Veronda, a lifelong friend of the family and frequent travel companion. “Once her Masai guide got lost, with Marie and San Marino friends spending the cold night in the vehicle with only a few glowing eyes outside staring at the intruders. Marie thought it all a marvelous adventure.”
Mrs. Reitnouer remembered a trip to Moscow. Marie, a kerchief on her head, struggled to carry the luggage of both she and friend Jeane Edwards into the hotel lobby while Mrs. Edwards made final arrangements.
“Marie was stopped by authorities who demanded to see her work papers,” said Mrs. Reitnouer. “her passport convinced everyone she was OK.”
She was OK, all right…
Marie is survived by her son, Jon Charles Crowley and daughter-in-law Carolyn (Wagner) Crowley of San Marino; grandsons Charles Paul ‘Chip’ Crowley III and Patrick Leahy Crowley, and granddaughter Kelly Claire Crowley.
Marie was preceded in death by Paul, in 2012, and her daughter, Claire Marie Crowley, who died in a tragic auto accident during her senior year at Wellesley College at the age of 22 in 1979.
It was during this most difficult stage in her life where Marie’s true character and strength was revealed, according to friends and family members.
“Losing a child as Marie and Paul did with Claire’s fatal accident is an overwhelmingly difficult experience for any parent,” said Ken Veronda, a lifelong friend of the family. “Marie responded by taking her daughter’s classmate into the Crowley home to live through several months of therapy and recovery, restoring Claire’s badly wounded passenger with the help of Marie’s love. After months of grieving, the Crowleys came to even greater volunteering around our community, through service to city and local organizations as well as their beloved church.”
A private Catholic funeral Mass will be held for the family, with burial in Avalon.
In lieu of flowers, contributions can be made to the Claire Marie Crowley Memorial Art Fund, 750 Winston Ave., San Marino, CA 91108.
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