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John C. Crowley - A Man for Pasadena

Mayor Bill Bogaard
John C. Crowley Memorial
Athenaeum at Caltech
September 15, 2007


A huge crowd gathered at the Athenaeum on the Caltech campus on September 15 to celebrate the life and accomplishments of former Pasadena Mayor John Crowley. Mayor Bogaard spoke, along with former City Manager Don McIntyre, and several members of the Crowley family. The Mayor’s remarks follow. 


It is no surprise to me and Claire that there is a huge crowd here today for this important event. John and Barbara Crowley touched the lives of many, many people in Pasadena over the last 50 years.

When a community loses a prominent person like John Crowley, everyone is interested in learning the key to his or her success, and the extent of his or her influence. Frankly, that includes me. I consider it an honor to have this opportunity to join in celebrating John’s life and in offering compliments and comfort to Barbara and all the Crowley family.

I first met John over 30 years ago, and since then have been in regular if not frequent touch, including the opportunity during the last eight years of talking with him on more regular intervals.

Don McIntyre and I sat down a week ago to share our thoughts about John. In the end, I reach the conclusion that—to adopt a well known phrase—that John Crowley is “Man for all Cities”, truly a “Man for Pasadena”.

He got started in local government 60 years ago as the recipient of a Sloan Foundation Fellowship in local government. From that point, he pursued city administration and management, working with the Municipal Finance Officers Association in Chicago, with the League of California Cities, and as City Manager of Monterey Park.

After he and Barbara moved to Pasadena in the early 1950’s, John immediately became active in community organizations, and in the decades ahead served Pacific Oaks School, Pacific Asia Museum, Linda Vista-Annandale Association, Neighborhood Church, Caltech Associates, and the Western Justice Center. There were other organizations that benefited from his thoughtful direction.

John was a founding Chair of the Historic Preservation Commission, a founder of the Rose Bowl Aquatics Center, and a two time commissioner with the Burbank-Glendale-Pasadena Airport Authority. The high point of his civic commitment, at least in my judgment and I believe in his, was 12 years of service on the City Council beginning in 1979. He served ably as Mayor of Pasadena when this great City celebrated its centennial in 1986.

I think of John in all of his work in local government as analytical, tenacious and truly creative. His most important achievement—and I believe he agreed with this assessment—was a financial strategy he developed when the City was facing a crisis in funding the Fire and Police Officers Retirement System. Following the voters’ approval of Proposition 13, many traditional municipal finance solutions were no longer available.

In what became known as the “Crowley 3 Bucket Theory”, the pension issue was resolved and at the same time the City was able to make needed repairs to sidewalks, streets and public buildings, and to construct a new police building.

During the last 8 years, John was always available to me, and he not infrequently called me to address difficult problems facing the City. Based on my experience, his analytical and creative talents were undiminished. Pasadena will go on—as John would say it will “proceed as the way opens”—but one source of truly effective solutions is no longer available to help us in our progress.

I am grateful to John Crowley for the high standards he set for all of us—in vision, discipline, style, and civility. In the end, I think of John as a “Man for all Cities”, truly a “Man for Pasadena”. 

Posted: 9/15/2007 09:00:00 AM