Frances Crowe
1919 - 2019
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Frances Crowe, longtime peace and environmental activist, passed away yesterday of natural causes at the age of 100.

Frances was born in Carthage, MO in 1919. She graduated from Stephens College in 1939 and Syracuse University in 1941. With the advent of World War II, Frances took an Industrial Supervision course at Mount Holyoke College, joining the many young women recruited into the workforce as men went to war. During the war years, she lived in International House in New York City and worked for Bell Telephone Laboratories.

When the war ended she married Dr. Thomas J. Crowe and made her home first in Rochester, NY, then in Hartford, CT, and ultimately in Northampton, MA. Tom and Frances had three children.

When the United States bombed Hiroshima, Frances became deeply concerned about the death and destruction caused by war, especially the destruction caused by atomic weapons. Frances' concerns came close to home when she learned that, due to the United States government's testing of nuclear weapons in the atmosphere, her children's milk was being polluted with the radioactive poison Strontium 90. She gathered together with other Northampton women to petition the government to stop atmospheric bomb testing. She sent her children out on their bicycles to carry petitions to potential signers. Subsequently, this group of women formed the Northampton chapter of Women's International League for Peace and Freedom.

As the US increased troop strength in Vietnam, Frances protested and was arrested at Westover Air Force base, at Sikorsky helicopter factory and at many more war related sites. She threw blood on nuclear submarines at Electric Boat in Groton, CT and spray painted "Thou Shalt Not Kill" on these war machines. One arrest, in 1983, resulted in 30 days in the Rhode Island Department of Corrections. After an arrest the chief of police came out to meet her, took one look at her lengthy arrest record and asked her "How many times have you been arrested?"

"Not enough," was her reply.

As the Vietnam War continued, Frances established an American Friends' Service Committee draft counseling center in the basement of her home, counseling thousands of young men. As she drove the route from Amherst to Northampton, she picked up student hitchhikers and discussed their stand on the Vietnam war with them, counseling them about conscientious objection. Young men and their families gathered in her basement on Friday nights, discussing their opposition to the Vietnam War, spilling out into the street in front of her home. In her later years, Frances would often meet now much older men who would greet her with, "Frances, you draft counseled me."

Frances decided that environmental destruction, especially that caused by the residue of nuclear power plants, was the most important issue facing our planet. She began to work against nuclear power and other environmental degradation.

Frances' work in the movement to shut down Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant was legendary. She worked with her affinity group as they chained themselves to the gates of Vermont Yankee. The local police chief would pick up Frances, book her and release the woman now in her 90s. One day when she missed a demonstration due to a bout with pneumonia the police chief asked with concern, "Where's Frances?"

In the early 2000s Frances decided that unless people had accurate information about the world they would never join her in working for change. She felt that if people listened to Democracy Now! they would have a better understanding of the world and thus she set about bringing the program to local radio waves. When local radio stations refused to carry the program, Frances and a friend set up their own pirate radio station with antenna in Frances' back yard. Today, Democracy Now! Can be heard throughout the valley and beyond.

She was honored with many distinctions. Among them were; Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters, University of Massachusetts (1996), Courage of Conscience Award, Peace Abbey, Shelburne, MA (2007), Honorary Doctorate, Smith College, Northampton, MA, (2015) Frances' papers are at the Sophia Smith Archives at Smith College.

Frances was a strong believer that one sets an example through the way one lives one's life. Others were deeply influenced by her. Her courage encouraged others to take risks. Her energy and commitment encouraged others to take a stand. Ralph Nader described her as the most persistent human being he had ever met.

Frances was a Quaker, a member of the Atlantic Life Community (a Catholic peace fellowship), a devoted mother and grandmother. Frances was a stalwart vegetarian. Her organic garden in her front yard was her pride and joy. Her motto was, "Live simply so that others can simply live."

Frances was predeceased by her husband, Dr. Thomas J. Crowe. She is survived by her three children: Caltha Crowe (married to Jerry Allison), Jarlath Crowe (married to Rebecca Wathen-Dunn) and Dr. Thomas H. Crowe (married to Nancy Crowe). She has five grandchildren: Patrick Crowe, Rosa Dinelli, Sean Crowe, Simone Crowe and Tom Crowe and two great grandchildren: Vincent Dinelli and Vito Dinelli.

To Plant Memorial Trees in memory, please visit our Sympathy Store.
Published in Daily Hampshire Gazette on Aug. 29, 2019.
Memories & Condolences
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14 entries
September 26, 2019
I would like to express my deepest sympathies for the loss of your loved one, who will be remembered for her love of justice. May you find comfort and strength in God during this time of mourning.
September 16, 2019
September 7, 2019
RIP.. BEAUTIFUL, STRONG and BRAVE woman. A inspiration to all to not just talk about the wrong doings in this world, be about speaking out against it. We can learn from Frances, we can become activists in one way or another. PRAYERS and BLESSINGS ...THANK U❤
Valenda Newell
September 7, 2019
Cherish the wonderful memories of Frances. May God be a wonderful source of comfort and strength.
September 6, 2019
Francis was larger than life, strong for the truth, yet forceful without anger. I interacted with her on a number of projects, in a variety of settings in the mid 70s and early 80s : while running The Alternative Energy Coalition office, as member of Clamshell Alliance, Vermont Yankee Decommissioning Alliance, and Stop Trident to name a few. Some of my fondest memories are of standing beside her at the weekly vigil on The Amherst Commons, watching her get arrested a number of times while I helped coordinate support at various actions and visiting her at home a year or so ago. Though I left the Pioneer Valley for almost 20 years the lessons she taught me and the example she presented to me traveled with me. When I returned to The Valley in 2001, I was amazed and gladdened but not really surprised to find her still going strong. I was touched again and again whenever we reconnected. She will be missed.


September 5, 2019
Our hearts are saddened for the loss of your dearly beloved Mother. May the God of tender mercies be with you all. Please know that our Loving Heavenly Father grants you all continuous love, peace and comfort during this most difficult time. We know that you must be so very proud of your beloved Mother and the legacy she left!

SM, Brandon Mississippi
September 4, 2019
Points of light to overcome the world's darkness are the aspirations we embody through the gift of her precious lifetime. Peace, Frances.
Ina Luadtke
September 4, 2019
My deepest sympathy to her family. May Almighty God grant you peace as you cope with your loss.
September 4, 2019
Our deepest condolences to the family. If more people were like her then this would have been a very peaceful world.

We pray that God continues to strengthen and comfort you all during this difficult period.
Martinez Family
September 3, 2019
My sincerest sympathies to Frances' family, friends, and fellow activists. I saw Frances on a regular basis at VY in Vernon VT, and although I had a job to do, I will always remember her fierce dedication to the causes she believed in. It is with the utmost fondness and respect that I say...Dear Frances, may you rest in the peace you passionately fought for. ❤
Chief Mary Beth Hebert
Mary Beth Hebert
September 3, 2019
Rest in Peace
Scott Chamberland
September 2, 2019
Frances was an inspiration to all peace-loving people.

May her memory be a blessing.

Renee Malowitz
August 30, 2019
Our love and support goes out to the Crowe family for the huge loss of Frances.
Bob Gardner & Mary Albert
Bob Gardner
August 29, 2019
Our sincerest sympathy to the family of Frances Crowe.
A true spirit and a trailblazer in the name of peace.
Janet & Wayne Dinelli
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