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Louise M. Cromwell

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Louise M. CROMWELL Louise Cromwell, owner of the Athenian Inn restaurant at Pike Place Market for more than 50 years, greeted each customer with her sunny personality and a cheery "Good Morning!" She loved the bustling atmosphere of the Market as she wound her way through the vendors stalls, musicians and shops each day on her way to work. At age 91, she still worked part-time at the Athenian, going from table to table, chatting with the restaurant's colorful regulars and new customers who quickly became new friends. Louise M. Cromwell died Sunday, May 15, 2011 at Mirabella Retirement Center after a brief illness.She was known as the Market's "Miss Perky," who still walked with a jaunty spring in her step and loved a good joke or silly cartoon. A patron of the performing arts, she regularly attended the ballet, symphony, theatre and opera. She loved driving around Seattle in her Mini Cooper and just recently went bowling with friends. But it was her unassuming grace that drew people to her. She donated to many charities, but never spoke of her philanthropy. Standing at just 4'10", she nearly disappeared behind the Athenian's antique bar. With her trademark silvery white hair and red glasses, Louise was a well-known figure in Seattle. Recently, Louise was honored by being crowned "Queen Of The Pike Place Market" by the people she knew so well, those who live and work there. Pike Place security officers, vendors, janitors, restauranteurs and other business owners were her second family and the Market was her second home. She called the servers and staff at the Athenian "my kids". In 1963, Louise and her husband, Bob, were looking for a restaurant space, and he took Louise for a look at the Athenian. Although it was a tavern, Louise saw Bob's vision of a bustling, eccentric inn. They bought the space, closed the restaurant for two days, while they scrubbed and cleaned then reopened. Over the years they remodeled and expanded, keeping the turn of the century feel of the Pike Place Market. They bought the jewelry store and the Chinese restaurant that occupied the first floor of the Athenian and added a second level. Louise did the book work for the restaurant at night after putting in a full day's work in the downtown corporate office of a lumber company. Bob ran the business and was head chef. Soon the Athenian's reputation for great food and a spectacular view grew, drawing luminaries ranging from the Rolling Stones to Cesar Romero. When the producers of "Sleepless in Seattle" were scouting locations for a scene, they chose the Athenian for its old-time Seattle ambiance and gritty charm. One producer asked Louise to be an extra in the scene. While Tom Hanks and Rob Reiner discuss their love lives, Louise can be seen walking toward them, menu in hand. After Bob died, Louise, then in her mid-80s, took over the operation and management of the entire restaurant. She had to learn the business by osmosis, and quickly. She refilled the famous 10 cent cups of coffee, waited tables, took orders and bused tables, always with a warm and pleasant smile. Louise retired in April 2011, and the Athenian Inn will never be the same without that smiling face greeting customers at the door. Louise M. Cromwell was predeceased by her husband, Robert O. Cromwell; her parents, Michael and Pauline Marush of Tacoma; her brothers, Mark Marush and Arthur Marush and her sister, Pauline Marush Markham. She is survived by her sisters, Alma Martin of Tacoma and Mary Bonneville of Gig Harbor; her nephews, Arthur Marush of Long Island, New York; Charles Marush of Seattle and her nieces, Nora Linbo of Tacoma, Victoria Bonneville of Seaside, Oregon, and Donna Marush of Seattle. A funeral service will be held at Saint Anne's Catholic Church 1411 First Avenue West, Seattle at 1:30 p.m., Thursday, May 19. This will be followed by a celebration of Louise's life at Pike Place Bar and Grill, 90 Pike Street, Seattle from 7:00-9:00 p.m. on the same day. Louise's family invites all who knew and loved Louise to attend both events. Donations may be made to the Pike Place Market Foundation in Louise Cromwell's name. Funeral arrangements by Hoffner, Fisher and Harvey Funeral Home. Sign Louise's on-line Guest Book at www.Legacy.com.
Published in The Seattle Times from May 17 to May 18, 2011
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