In Memoriam: Molly Crowley


The Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution announces with deep sorrow the death March 21, 2010 of former Corporation Member, Molly Crowley, at her vacation home in Indian Wells, California. 

Molly and her late husband, Tom, became WHOI Associates in 1990.  Tom served as an Honorary Trustee of the Institution from 1992 to 1994.  Molly was elected a Member of the Corporation in 1994 and served until 2009. 

Molly (Murphy) Crowley was born in Portland, Oregon on November 27, 1938.  She received her BA in history from Manhattanville College in Purchase, NY.  Early in her career, Molly and Wilma Caplan founded the real estate company Cronin and Caplan; the firm grew to be the largest residential real estate company in Oregon and was later sold to Windermere Real Estate Company.  Molly met her late husband, Thomas “Tom” B. Crowley, Sr., while on a ski vacation in Switzerland.  They claimed it was love at first sight, and they were married for many years prior to his death in 1994.  Tom had served as Chairman, President, and CEO of Crowley Maritime Corporation of Oakland, CA.  Molly was a longtime board member of Crowley Maritime and oversaw the growth of the 118-year old maritime and logistics company into nearly a $2 billion a year powerhouse.  Mrs. Crowley served as a board member of Manhattanville College and the Fine Arts Museum in San Francisco; she was also active in the San Francisco Opera and the California Patrons of the Arts of the Vatican Museums.  Molly was a well known competitive amateur golfer in Oregon’s golf circles.  She won the Oregon Coast Amateur golf tournament many times, and she often contended for the Oregon State Women’s Amateur Championship.  Molly was also an avid aviator.  Following in her husband’s footsteps, she earned her pilot’s license and, in February 2010, Molly piloted her last cross-country trip from the West Coast to Crowley’s headquarters in Jacksonville, FL to attend a board of directors meeting. 

Molly is survived by three children from a previous marriage: Liz Cronin, Gigi Cronin, and Fred Cronin; two stepchildren: Tom Crowley, Jr. and Adrienne Crowley Esseltine; and one grandchild, Nicholas Burns.  She is also survived by four brothers and sisters: Peter Murphy; Dennis Murphy; Michael Murphy; John Murphy; Patty van der Velde; Dotty Johnson; and Libby Benz. 

A rosary was held on Friday, March 26th at Cathedral of Christ the Light in Oakland, and a Catholic Mass the following day at the same cathedral.  Those wishing to remember Molly may make a memorial donation to: The Cathedral of Christ the Light, 2121 Harrison Street, Oakland, California, 94612. 






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