CARBONDALE — Dr. Bryan Kelso Crow, 66, departed this world at 12:01 p.m. Sept. 29, 2019, at home, cared for by and surrounded in his last days and moments by his children and their partners, and their mother.
Bryan was born on July 3, 1953, in Chattanooga, Tennessee, to Mildred Kelso Crow and Ray Bryan Crow, who preceded him in death, as did his grandparents, Ola Bruner Kelso and Fannie Mae Kelso; and James Ray Crow and Lillian May Bryan Crow.
He is survived by two siblings, Susan Kay Crow and husband Charlie, now of Hilton Head, South Carolina, and Kevin Ray Crow and wife Leanna, now of Clinton, Tennessee; two children, Anthony Howard-Crow and wife, Kourtney, of Loveland, Colorado, and Molly Howard-Crow, of Carbondale; four grandchildren, Arson, Floyd, Range and Baerd; his ex-wife, dear friend, and mother of his children, Margaret Howard; his beloved dog, Pinky; as well as four nieces, Chelsea, Heather, Marissa and Catelee; and many cousins and extended family.
Bryan was an active and key member of The Church of the Good Shepherd, UCC, in Carbondale, an open and affirming, social justice oriented congregation led by Pastor Kim Magwire. Bryan played piano for the church every Sunday, and for special events. He sat on numerous church committees, received the Russell A. French Layperson of the Year Award in 2003, and was made a Delegate of the Word last year. Bryan earned Bachelor's and Master's degrees in Speech and Theatre from the University of Tennessee and a doctorate in Communication and Theatre Arts from the University of Iowa. He joined the Communication Studies department (then Speech Communication) at Southern Illinois University in 1981 as an instructor, moving onto the tenure track in 1982 and being promoted to Associate Professor in 1988. In 2013, he became cross-appointed in both Linguistics, and in Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. His course on Irish Culture was one of the more popular courses for many years in the University Honors Program, as were his study abroad trips to Ireland in collaboration with SIU's Forestry Department. Throughout his time as an academic, he participated in conferences local, regional, national, and international, and published in outlets such as the Journal of Language and Social Psychology, Journalism Monographs, and Media, Culture and Society. Dr. Crow sat on nearly 40 masters committees, over 100 dissertation committees, and directed over 30 masters and doctoral projects. But perhaps most importantly to him, he cared for his students, so many of whom have come forward since his death to speak of how he helped them in their lives and careers, worked hard to help them be successful in their courses, and provided mentorship not just in academics, but also in life. At the time of his death he had been conducting research for a book on American film director Clarence Brown. Those outside of academia may know him best as the host of the internationally-syndicated public radio show, Celtic Connections, where he took to the airwaves each Saturday and Sunday night since 1991 to showcase his love of traditional Irish and Celtic music. Through his radio show, he brought much attention to a variety of artists both in the U.S. and worldwide. Celtic Connections was syndicated to 110 national and international radio stations, with a listening audience of approximately 13 million people each week. However, he didn't just showcase the music of others. Bryan was a founding member of local Irish band the Dorians. For nearly 30 years the ensemble has enjoyed great fame throughout the region playing traditional Celtic tunes and original compositions. Bryan was also a founding organizer and staple performer of the Southern Illinois Irish festival, an annual event that brought countless Celtic and Americana musicians and dancers to the region. Wherever he went, if there was Irish music being performed, he knew the tunes, joined in, found people who knew and loved him, and made new life-long friends. Bryan received multiple awards and honors, including an induction into the Phi Kappa Phi Honors Society, and the Carbondale Community Arts Legacy Award.
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Bryan touched so many lives, through his dedication to his students, church family, community, the worldwide community of Celtic musicians, and of course his family, who will miss his calm and kind presence beyond description.
A service to share in our grief, and celebrate Bryan's life, is scheduled for 11 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 5, at the Church of the Good Shepherd UCC in Carbondale. Immediately following the service will be a potluck, music playing, and storytelling. His family says, "Please feel welcome to bring a potluck dish to share, to bring your instruments if you are a player, and any memories you would like to share of Bryan. We know Bryan would love nothing more than a lively music session following his service! Childcare will be provided."
Memorials may be made in Bryan's name to WSIU radio station, Carbondale New School, and the Church of the Good Shepherd UCC, all in Carbondale.