Walt Crowley

Walt Crowley
Born (1947-06-20)June 20, 1947
Ferndale, Michigan
Died September 21, 2007(2007-09-21) (aged 60)
Seattle, Washington
Occupation Historian, journalist, community activist
Spouse(s) Marie McCaffrey
Parent(s) Walter A. Crowley and Violet King (now Kilvinger)

Walter Charles Crowley (June 20, 1947 – September 21, 2007) was a Washington political celebrity. He first became a public figure in Seattle through his involvement with the social and political movements of the 1960s, especially the underground press. He later became more widely known as a local television personality and for his pioneering work as a local historian, including co-creating the Web site HistoryLink.org,[1] which he considered to be his crowning achievement.[2]


Born in Ferndale, Michigan, the only child of engineer and inventor Walter A. Crowley and Violet King (now Kilvinger), Walt lived in Royal Oak, Michigan, Flint, Michigan, the Washington, D.C. area and Connecticut until 1961, when his father was hired by Boeing and moved to Seattle.[1]

Crowley graduated from Seattle's Nathan Hale High School, winning state honors as an artist, and briefly worked at Boeing as an illustrator. Entering the University of Washington, he became active in local socialist, antiwar, and civil rights campaigns. In 1967, he joined Paul Dorpat's underground newspaper Helix as a cartoonist, writer, and editor. In 1968 he ran for the Washington State House of Representatives on the Peace & Freedom Party ticket.[1]

Crowley's service as mediator between the Seattle officials, local leaders, and the community's street people led to a youth hostel and social service agency called the U District Center; Crowley directed it from 1970 until 1972. He later worked for the Seattle Model Cities Program and then for the city itself in various planning and outreach roles.

He returned to private industry in 1977 and ran unsuccessfully for the Seattle City Council.[1] He had a variety of civic involvements afterwards, including serving as president of the venerable civic organization Allied Arts.

The Blue Moon Tavern, 2007. The sign at upper left dates from the 1960s and urges the reelection of liberal Democratic Washington State governor Albert Rosellini.

In 1980, Crowley formed Crowley Associates, which publishes guides to Seattle and provides services for many local political campaigns. He was a columnist and commentator in many local venues, most notably a seven-year run in a "Point-Counterpoint" format with conservative John Carlson on KIRO television.[1]

Crowley wrote several histories of local civic institutions, from the elite Rainier Club to the blue-collar Blue Moon Tavern. He led the campaign to save the Blue Moon from demolition, ran the task force that drafted new laws to restore historic Downtown theaters, and served on numerous other civic projects.[1]


Main article: HistoryLink

In 1997, Crowley discussed preparing a Seattle-King County historical encyclopedia for the 2001 sesquicentennial of the Denny Party. His wife Marie McCaffrey suggested publishing the encyclopedia on the Internet.[1]

They and Paul Dorpat incorporated History Ink on November 10, 1997, with seed money from Priscilla "Patsy" Collins, by birth a member of Seattle's wealthy and prominent Bullitt family.[3] The prototype of HistoryLink.org debuted on May 1, 1998, and attracted additional funding for a formal launch in 1999. In 2003 HistoryLink.org expanded its content to cover Washington state history. Meanwhile, History Link continues, focusing on the production of history books.[1]

Crowley and HistoryLink.org have won many awards, including

Personal life

Walt Crowley married graphic designer and business associate Marie McCaffrey in 1982.[1]

In 2005, Crowley was diagnosed with laryngeal cancer and fought it with characteristic stubbornness; the night before his larynx was removed, he held a "Famous Last (Natural) Words" party.[4]

Crowley was much beloved as an activist, writer but especially conversationalist, whose wit, passion and sense of fair play touched many he encountered.




  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Long, Priscilla (January 20, 2005, last updated September 21, 2007). "Crowley, Walt (1947-2007)". HistoryLink.org. Retrieved September 23, 2007. Check date values in: |date= (help)
  2. "Walt Crowley, citizen historian, dies at 60". Associated Press. September 22, 2005. Archived from the original on October 2, 2007. Retrieved September 23, 2007.
  3. Cassandra Tate, (July 3, 2003). "Collins, Dorothy Priscilla "Patsy" Bullitt (1920-2003)". HistoryLink.org. Retrieved 2007-10-13.
  4. Lewis, Mike (February 9, 2007). "Historian's voice still fighting to be heard". Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Retrieved December 23, 2012.
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