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Don Pieratt Crowson ’55

A picture of Don Crowson

Don Pieratt Crowson ’55, January 15, 2015, in Salem, Oregon. Born in Arkansas, Don attended high school in California and began his undergraduate studies at UC Berkeley. He transferred to Reed and earned a BA in education and psychology, though was interrupted in this process by service in the army during the Korean War. His thesis, written with Prof. Robert Wilson [psychology 1953–57], was “A Study of Intelligence and Achievement Test Scores in Relation to Socio-Economic Status.” Don savored the experience at Reed: philosophizing, enjoying a beer at the Lutz Tavern, skiing, sailing, and mountaineering, and spending time with Gloria Spencer—a nurse in the college’s infirmary whom he married in 1952. During summers, Don worked for the U.S. Forest Service, manning a remote fire lookout on Indian Mountain in the Mount Hood National Forest. After graduation, he accepted a position with the RAND Corporation in Massachusetts. In his nearly four-decade career as a software designer and developer, Don was instrumental in pioneering computer science. That career carried Don and his growing family to all corners of the country, infusing the five children with their father’s adventurous curiosity, notes his family. Don spent the last five years of his career as the technical adviser for the U.S. Air Force delegation to a NATO working group on communication standards, and was recognized by the Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe for enduring contributions to international security. “It was interesting and lots of fun roaming about Europe,” Don wrote to Reed. In retirement, he returned to college to study history. “I take literally that old contention that education is a lifelong process.” He earned a BA from Christopher Newport University (in 1998) and earned an MA from Old Dominion University (in 2006) in history. After living in Virginia for 35 years, Don and Gloria, moved to Salem, where Gloria had extended family and Don planned to enroll at Willamette University in order to begin a study of modern languages. (Instead he enrolled at Western Washington University, and was awarded a degree in political science posthumously in June 2015.) Accompanied by their daughter Gretchen, Don and Gloria visited Reed in 2008, and Don enjoyed another beer at the Lutz. Survivors include Gloria, and their daughters Gretchen, Anna, Heidi, and Grace, and son Mark; 11 grandchildren; and 2 great-grandchildren. Don’s older brother, musician Lamar Crowson ’48, also attended Reed.

Appeared in Reed magazine: June 2015

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