Farewell Barbara, Dear Friend and Esteemed Roundtable Benefactor


Barbara Wenzel Gilfillan Crowley,
March 19, 1924 – August 13, 2012

Officer Emeritus, Advisor, Secretary and forever esteemed Roundtable benefactor, Barbara W. G. Crowley passed away on August 13, 2012. Barbara and her husband John were good friends of Ruth Lloyd Miller and at the vanguard of all aspects of the authorship question. Barbara not only helped found the Roundtable over twenty-five years ago, but has continued to advise, nurture and support its evolution. With an unbounded generosity, grace and intelligence, Barbara presided over many SAR planning sessions at “Great Oaks”, the beautiful Crowley home of 54 years. From that generosity, grace and intelligence grew many of the Roundtable’s milestone achievements. We will miss her greatly and with Sylvia Crowley Holmes, Barbara’s daughter and our wonderful Secretary, grieve her passing. 

Should friends wish, donations in Barbara’s name can be made to the charity of their choice, or the Shakespeare Authorship Roundtable.

Barbara was born March 19, 1924 to author and social scientist, S. Colum Gilfillan and Louise Wenzel Gilfillan, social worker.  Barbara was raised in Hyde Park, Chicago and attended U. High (University of Chicago Laboratory Schools), also earning her BA in Psychology at the University of Chicago in 1944.  On the first day of her first job, Barbara met John Crowley.  They were married 6 months later and spent 63 fulfilling years together until John’s death in 2007.   In 1949 they moved to California where they raised their family of 6 children.  John and Barbara maintained a partnership throughout their marriage, and Barbara played the part of First Lady of Pasadena when John was mayor for two years.  Barbara believed her biggest accomplishment in life was her children.  A loving mother, she respected their differences and encouraged them to pursue their own interests.  As they grew up, she began her second career as an attorney.  She attended Loyola Law School, where she was one of the few women in her class.  She earned her JD and went on to practice estate, trust and probate law for 25 years at the firm of Barton, Klugman & Oetting in downtown Los Angeles.  She often expressed how lucky she felt to have had two separate careers: one, raising six children, the other, as an attorney.  Before, during and well after working as a lawyer, Barbara’s sense of civic responsibility motivated her to be an active participant in her local community.  She generously gave her time and energy to many organizations including the Pasadena PTA, Descanso Gardens Guild, Westridge School, Women at Work, League of Women Voters, University of Chicago Alumni and Los Angeles Beautiful, to name a few.  But her primary interest lay in the Shakespeare authorship question.  Thrilled by this real-life mystery, she studied and championed it throughout her life.

Barbara was preceded in death by her sister Marjorie Gilfillan, husband John and son Alex. She is survived by her children: Leonard, Philip, Eliot, Louisa and Sylvia, as well as eleven grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.  A celebration of Barbara’s life will be held Saturday, September 22 at “Great Oaks”, the Crowley home of 54 years.  Should friends wish, donations in Barbara’s name can be made to the charity of their choice, or the Shakespeare Authorship Roundtable.

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