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James F. Crow
January 4, 2012

James F. Crow

James F. Crow
Jan 4, 2012

James F. Crow
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Madison - James F. Crow, age 95, died on January 4, 2012 at Capitol Lakes in Madison. He was born in 1916 in Collegeville, Pennsylvania. James graduated from Friends University in Wichita and received a PhD in Genetics from The Univ. of Texas in Austin. He began playing in a String Quartet in High School and continued playing his viola up until a few weeks before his death. Chamber music continued to be his favorite, but he also played for many years in the Madison Symphony Orchestra, and continued to perform at his residence, Capitol Lakes, on a regular basis through the age of 95. James met his future wife, Ann, in The University of Texas student orchestra, due to a fortunate proximity between the viola and clarinet sections. He spent 48 years as a teacher and researcher at the University of Wisconsin in Madison. He is remembered by many former students, both undergraduate and graduate, for his lucid and enthusiastic teaching. He was a Fellow of the Royal Society of London, a Fellow of the Japan Academy, a member of the American Philosophical Society, the World Academy of Art and Science, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the National Academy of Medicine, and the National Academy of Sciences where he has chaired several committees, most recently a committee to study forensic uses of DNA fingerprinting. His most recent honor is the naming of the James F. Crow Institute for the Study of Evolution at the University of Wisconsin, Madison devoted to evolutionary research at the University including the departments of Agronomy, Anthropology, Botany, Biochemistry, Genetics and Horticulture. After his retirement at the age of 70, in 1986, he continued to be an active observer of Genetics research. For more than 10 years, James F. Crow and William F. Dove edited the popular "Perspectives" column in Genetics, the journal of the Genetics Society of America. More than 100 of these essays, which cumulatively are a history of modern genetics research and its continuing evolution, were published by the UW Press in 2000 as Perspectives on Genetics. James was preceded in death by his wife, Ann Crockett Crow in 2001 and descendents include his children, Franklin Crockett Crow, Laura Jean Crow and Catherine Rasmussen; and grandchildren, Laura Rasmussen Torvik, Susanna Rasmussen, Sarah and Matthew Caine and Ailey and Kielan Crow; and great-grandchildren Ivy and Julia. A memorial service will be held at Capital Lakes Great Hall, 333 W. Main St., Madison on Sunday, January 15th, 2012 at 3pm. James Crow was a longtime and generous patron of local music. Memorials could be made to any of the many local musical organizations, the Ann Crow Voice and Opera Fund or the James Crow Distinguished Professorship Fund, UW Foundation, US Bank Lockbox 78807, Milwaukee, WI 53278.

David Laatsch on Mar 15, 2012

Dr. Crow's inspiration in Genetics lives on in the High School students that I taught over the years. My sympathy to his family.

Susan E. Jordan Eichhorn on Jan 14, 2012

CandleDr. Crow was one of the finest persons I have ever known and a marvelous teacher.

Several years ago during the intermission of a concert at Memorial Union, Dr. Crow came over to where my late husband (Ike) and I were sitting. He asked whether we remembered him. We were very much surprised, for he only knew us slightly from many years earlier as graduate students (not in genetics). Quite the measure of a truly remarkable and gentle man.

I will never forget him. Would that there were many, many more like him.

Chris Leonhard Reed on Jan 13, 2012

Cathy, I offer my deepest condolences to you and your family.

Ben Taylor on Jan 11, 2012

Dr. Crow was the major inspiration for me as a graduate student in genetics. While he was not my major professor, he was an adviser to my thesis work and was very generous with his time. I would have to say that he was the most enlightened person I have ever known well. His kindness, friendliness, wit, and positive attitude was amazing.
Fortunately, I was able to continue seeing him fairly regularly over my scientific career. I will always cherish my memories of him.

Carol Steinhart on Jan 8, 2012

On the light side, Jim, I never thanked you for taking my side at my oral prelims. At the committee's discussion after my exam my minor professor, an analytical chemist who had probably understood little or nothing of the proceedings, didn't want to pass me because when he asked who Darwin was I answered, trying to show off how much I knew, that Darwin was a geologist who among his other contributions proposed a theory of atolls. My major professor told me later that you leaped to my defense, assuring Professor M that I really did know quite a bit about Charles Darwin and evolution! That happened so long ago, even on an evolutionary time scale.

Ellen L. Connor, MD on Jan 7, 2012

Dr. Crow was an incredibly kind, thoughtful, and joyful man who always made a point to encourage and congratulate young classical musicians. My son has looked forward to his saxophone recitals at Capital Lakes since high school, in part because Dr. Crow would always have thoughtful commentaries and wonderful stories to share with him after his performances. We were privileged to have met him through Capital Lakes and will miss seeing him there.

Randall Levin, MD on Jan 7, 2012

Dr Crow was an inspiration to me during my education at US-Madison when I took his Genectic 560 course (graduate level) as a college sophmore. He was very supportive of my undertaking and a terrific mentor. He always believed "I could do it", related to the subject matter at the level he was teaching. It was my best course of my university years, with not only challenging me but giving me knowledge that I have used throughout my career and studies. I fondly recall getting "personal" advise and help from Dr Crow. He was always there for me.
My best story about UW involved how I spent all of my time studying for finals during my sophmore year in 1968 rereading Strickberger's Genetic text so that I would do well. I didn't have time to study for my other exams because the genetics was so intriguing to me. I "aced" the final and received an A in the course and I have always been very proud of that fact, since I was only a Sophmore.
As far as my other exam (English) I went to my English TA and "begged" to let me keep my grade going into the final because I knew that I would fail it - for lacking the proper studying and preparing for the exam due to the fact that I spent all my time for the Genetics final.

It was an honor to have been in his class and to have been mentored by him.

Carol Steinhart on Jan 6, 2012

Although Jim will be best remembered by the nonscientific world for his contributions to music, he also cared deeply for the environment and conservation. The UW Arboretum and I in particular will always be grateful for his support of the arboretum's 75th anniversary concert by the Oakwood Chamber Players, which combined his two loves. He gave generously and unquestioningly, just because I asked for help. I will miss you at our chamber music sessions, Jim. Love you.



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Capitol Lakes Great Room
333 W. Main Street
Madison, Wisconsin 53703
3:00 PM

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