Mary Colby Williamson Crawley, beloved citizen, volunteer, and arts patron, died peacefully February 23, 2020, at her home in Norman, Oklahoma. She was 89.
Born Mary Colby Williamson January 18, 1931, in Norwood, Massachusetts, to Margaret (Colby) and Robert Williamson, Molly, as she was known affectionately all her life, will be remembered as a woman who loved, and who was loved.
A more gracious, kind, gentle woman we would be hard-pressed to find. Yet she was strong and principled. She taught her daughters Sara, Linda, and Martha, “We don’t do things just because everyone else does.”
Modest and unassuming, she was also a risk taker. As a young woman in her early 20’s, Molly left the security of home. Following studies at Pembroke College and Katherine Gibbs Secretarial School, she moved first to Vienna and then to Paris, where she lived and worked in the 1950’s. A chance encounter at an American-style restaurant in Paris with a young Texan on break from business school in the US, led her to marry James B. (Jim) Crawley of Spring Hill, Texas in 1956. Molly accompanied Jim west to Norman, Oklahoma, where they would raise three daughters, and she, without deliberate intention of any sort, would become one of Norman’s most beloved citizens. The only things she asked for were air-conditioning and regular trips back home to New England.
Molly looked for, and saw, the best in everyone she met, and always spoke of how friendly the people of Oklahoma are. Everyone she met felt her love and kindness, including even the cashiers at her local grocery store. After keying in the phone number given by Molly’s daughter to apply the loyalty discount, a cashier saw Molly’s name come up and said, “Oh how is Molly? We haven’t seen her in a few days! Please give her our best!”
A co-founder of what would become Children and Family Services and an instrumental figure in the expansion of kindergarten to every elementary school in Norman, Molly was also a Brownie leader, an active member of PEO, and a long-time member of First Presbyterian Church, where she taught Sunday School and sang in the choir.
Molly served on the University of Oklahoma College of Fine Arts Board of Visitors and the OU Music Theatre/Opera Guild. She and Jim attended events and performances by all departments the University of Oklahoma College of Fine Arts. Additionally, she particularly enjoyed helping Arts students achieve their dreams.
Molly remembered people. She wrote birthday cards every year. She sent postcards from far and wide. With her husband Jim, she travelled the world from Africa on safari to sailing in Alaska to Queenstown New Zealand for the eve of the millennium. She and Jim returned often to a favorite old haunt of theirs, the Café Deux Magot, in the Place Saint Germaine des Pres, Paris.
In addition to her parents, her sister Margie predeceased Molly. Molly is survived by her husband, Jim; daughters Sara Crawley of Northampton, MA, Linda (Mark) Shirley of Dallas, TX, Martha (Will) Tracey of Denver, CO, grandchildren Mary (Molly) and Sam Tracey, Karen and David Shirley, and brother Russ Williamson of Norwood, MA.
A memorial service will be held at 2 pm Saturday Feb. 29, at First Presbyterian Church, Norman, OK. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Children and Family Services, Inc. or the Music Ministry at First Presbyterian Church, Norman, OK.
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