JOAN CROWELL

Obituary
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CROWELL--Joan Lewisohn.

poet author composer and activist died on Saturday, April 18 at her home in Quogue, New York, surrounded by her children. She was 93. She was the wife of David G Crowell who pre-deceased her six years ago, and the former wife of Sidney Simon the artist who co-founded the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture while they were married. Joan Lewisohn was born in New York the daughter of Sam A Lewisohn and Margaret Seligman Lewisohn. Her parents marriage joined two members of New Yorks great Jewish families a photo of Mrs. Crowell and her sisters is on the cover of Stephen Birminghams Our Crowd. In the 1960s Mrs. Crowell writing as Joan Simon published two books One was a novel: Portrait of a Father (Athenaeum, 1960) The other Fort Dix Stockade was a nonfiction accounting of the mistreatment of Vietnam War activists She also wrote an English language libretto for Glucks Orpheus and numerous poems published in various journals Several decades later she wrote both the music and librettos of operas including The Bell Witch of Tennessee and The Heights which were performed in concert format She wrote a variety of other music some of which was recorded Her recent poems were published in Poems of Possibilities (Sheep Meadow Press 2008) and Recent Poems (Lulu Press 2012). Joan Lewisohn was a young woman of amusing contradictions Though she told her parents she didn't want to go to college she got her BA from Bennington, where she studied with Francis Fergusson and earned a master's degree in English from NYU where she also taught in the 1940s Having gone to New York's progressive Lincoln School where children had a say in what they studied Mrs. Crowell claimed to have gone no farther in math than fractions Despite that she was the Business Manager of the Partisan Review in the 1940s and the treasurer of the authors union PEN in the 1970s In later years she did all her composing on computers to the astonishment of her children. Those ironies continued throughout her life despite often claiming that she was a loner Joan Crowell had five children 16 grandchildren and step grandchildren and five great-grandchildren who all adored her and on whom she doted. Her family mourns her passing architect son Mark Simon and his wife Penny Bellamy in Branford CT artist daughter Teru in Bennington VT designer manufacturer daughter Rachel Simon and her husband Philippe Labeau in Red Hook NY, artist daughter Nora Simon in Boston MA, and nonprofit executive daughter Juno Duenas and her husband Robert in San Francisco CA along with their numerous progeny. A memorial gathering is being planned for family and friends in New York City in September The family asks that memorial gifts be given to Support for Families http://www.supportforfamilies.org/ or East End Hospice www.eeh.org/

Published in The New York Times on June 2, 2015
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