Back to Last Roll Call Home Page   

James I. Crowther, Jr

Company F-1

19 Apr 1940 - 25 Oct 2008

Place of Death:Albuquerque, NM

Interment: Sunset Memorial Park, Albuquerque, NM

It is with great regret and sorrow that we must forward the message below concerning the death of our classmate, Jim Crowther, on Saturday, October 25, 2008, in Albuquerque, New Mexico.  He is survived by his daughters, Catherine Fraser and husband, Robert of Albuquerque; Carolyn Roller and husband, Michael of Fort Collins, CO; and Cristin Crowther of Albuquerque; and his sister, Nancy Berman and husband, Robert of Woodstock, MD.

Memorial Services will be held Friday, October 31, 2008, at 10:00 a.m., at French Mortuary Chapel, 7121 Wyoming Blvd. NE, Albuquerque.  Interment of cremains will follow at Sunset Memorial Park, 924 Menaul Blvd. NE.

The family requests that memorial contributions be made to the charity of your choice.

Well done, Jim.  Be thou at peace.

I am writing to you on behalf of my father, James Crowther.  My dad had a heart attack on Saturday and passed away.  His service will be this Friday morning in Albuquerque where he will receive military honors.  We know how special his days at West Point were to him and we're glad he had the opportunity recently to attend various reunions to catch up.  If you need to contact us with any questions, you can reach us at this email or our phone (970) 412-6425.  Thank you.

Carri Roller


Class Memorial Pages\F-1 Jim Crowther.pdf

One of the earliest memories I have of my father happened when I was about 4 years old. I had stubbed my toe riding my bike in front of our house and it began to hurt and bleed. My dad had seen what had happened, came over to me and held me, and told me not to cry, to be a tough little soldier. I didn't realize it then but looking back now I can see that was the way he lived his own life. He dealt with far more adversity and pain than a simple stubbed toe, but he endured it with strength and dignity and rarely shed a tear.

My father taught me a lot about life. He taught me the value or hard work and how to take pride in a job well done. He was disciplined, organized, and thorough, and he was! never, ever, late! He was, of course, a soldier and an engineer and therefore a stickler for details. He once brought me home a plaque to hang in my room which read, "Why is there never enough time to do something right but there is always enough time to do it over?" That was his philosophy is a nutshell. He pushed me to finish whatever I'd start and to never give up just because something got hard. I struggled through three years of honors math in high school but he wouldn't let me quit. Instead, he patiently (and sometimes not so patiently!) sat up with me night after night helping me through the challenging homework.

My dad wasn't one to say "I love you" or "I'm proud of you" much but he was great at showing it. When I finally settled on nutrition as my major in college, he promptly signed up for all the nutrition and wellness classes at work. When he didn't relentlessly tease the wonderful man I'd chosen to marry like he had all my previous boyfriends and welcomed Mike into our home, it showed me that he was proud of my choice of husband. And when he visited me in the hospital after I'd given birth to my daughter, Rachel, I saw him wipe a tear from his eye, beam down at his beautiful granddaughter, and he patted me on the head, silently saying, "Well done."

My dad made many sacrifices in his life and he served both his country and his family with honor and dedication. He dealt with adersity head on and often with a sense of humor. Just ask me to tell you about some of his Viet Nam stories! Growing up, my dad was a rock in a sea of emotional females and we were so grateful for his stability. He wasn't perfect, but he was strong and proud and generous. I just can't believe he's gone--I thought he'd live forever. But what he taught me, my sisters and his grandchildren will continue on. God, in His perfect timing, has called my dad home where he is now reunited with his parents, a daughter and two grandchildren who died far too soon, and with numerous fellow soldiers who lost their lives in war. And I'll bet he's even playing a little fetch with our old dogs! There will be an emptiness in my heart now until I see my dad again in heaven, but I am so thankful to the Lord for blessing me with such a wonderful man as my father.

Carri Roller

My dad is my hero.  He was a brave and dedicated Army officer.  When you asked him what he did for a living he would tell you he kept our country safe for democracy.  He was a soldier, a friend, an educator, an artist, a writer and a comedian.

In my eyes, my dad could do anything.  If he couldn’t do it himself, he knew what to do to make it happen.  He would move mountains or walk through fire for me without hesitation if he thought I needed something.  I could count on him for anything.  Every Sunday without fail I would get an email to schedule our weekly dinner dates.  

He was my biggest cheerleader when I was successful.   More importantly, when I fell, he was there to pick me up, dust me off and send me back out there to try again.  He would listen to me ramble on and on about what was going on in my life like it was the most important thing he had heard all day. 

I remember dad getting me dressed for school when I was little.  When I was a little older, I remember him sitting in his recliner in the family room reading the paper.  I remember watching Jeopardy at dinner and trying so hard to beat him to say the answer.  I know he let me win a few times even though he always knew every single answer!  I remember dad bringing me home souvenirs from his business trips.  I remember dad being silly at the BBQ grill for my birthday parties.  My friends loved him too, they didn’t call him Mr. Crowther, they called him dad.  I remember how loud his sneezes were. 

I will miss our dinner dates and going to Isotopes and Lobo games.  He knew I liked the nachos and he liked the Indian tacos.  I will miss reading his letters to the editor.  He was published in everything from the Alibi to the Albuquerque Journal to Sports Illustrated.  I will miss talking about football and baseball.  He brought me home two foul balls he got when he went to watch spring training this year.  I will miss talking about our turtles and checking to see if they have gone into hibernation yet.  I will miss dad bringing me a rose from his garden.  He had such a green thumb.  I will miss dad coming to my house and playing with my dogs and telling me it was ok that they were jumping on him.  I will miss him petting my cat even though he was so allergic to cats.

My dad will never walk me down the aisle or dance with me at my wedding.  He will never be there to play with my babies.  But I know his spirit will be all around me.    I miss you dad.  I pray that the EMT told you I would be at the hospital as fast as I could.  I pray you knew I was in the hospital waiting to be let back to see you.  I pray you could hear the words I spoke to you even though you were already gone.

Thank you for everything you ever did for me.  I wouldn’t be the woman I am today if it hadn’t been for you.  God blessed me to have you as my father. 

Cristin Crowther

When I was younger, I would think to myself that my grandpa was not like other grandpas. My grandpa was not meek, sweet, and gentle, but proud, smart and strong. I didn't know other kids whose grandpas' houses were full of books on theoretical physics and differential equations. To me, my grandpa was special--someone I could look up to. Literally, at over 6 feet, and figuratively--intelligent and strong, proud and independent.

I always thought he was a genius. I would email him all the time for help with my math and science homework. Once I interviewed him about his ancestors for a history project. When we went to his house in the summer, I would gawk in awe at all of the math and science books! he had on his bookshelves. I remember him writing out an equation on the kitchen table and telling me that one plus one really doesn't equal two. He seemed to know everything there was to know about computers, too. For Thanksgiving one year, he brought me books on computer programming, and showed me all the cool things you could do with the program. My grandpa was one of the smartest people I've ever known.

He was also one of the strongest. It wasn't really that long ago that I last rode on his shoulders. From his shoulders, it felt like I could see the whole world. When he visited us in Maryland, we would go sightseeing in DC--we would walk around and look at the monuments, taking turns on his shoulders. And when he would squeeze my leg, I was always amazed by how strong his hands were--it hurt!

But most of all, my grandpa was proud and independent. I always knew how proud he was of serving in the army--he told stories about it all the time. Some were even funny. I didn't know much about all of the guns and tanks and troops he talked about, but one thing did come through to me. I was inspired by the way my grandpa lived his life--thoroughly, and with a purpose. My grandpa believed in doing things right.

I will think of him this Thanksgiving when he doesn't show up, when there are no presents from "the Great Turkey", wrapped so neatly, when my dad is sitting alone on the couch, watching the football game. I will miss his stories, his jokes, the way he laughed, the way he made my mom laugh so hard. I might even miss the way he squeezed my leg. But I will always remember him.

My grandpa was an example of many characteristics I strive every day to exhibit. My grandpa was, and is, and always will be someone I can look up to.

Rachel Roller

I really enjoyed talking to Grandpa Jim every Saturday morning when he would call. We would talk about sports and who the Broncos were playing. It was always fun when he would come for Thanksgiving. We would always have a lot of fun when he would come to visit. He would tease us about the "Great Turkey". I will always remember him and miss him.

Joshua Roller

I loved how Grandpa Jim was always teasing and making jokes. I liked Myrtle, his turtle, and how he fed her strawberries and kept her in the bathtub until she was bigger. I liked going places with him like up the tram and to Isotope games and to the Washington Monument. I'll miss him a lot especially on Thanksgiving.

Adam Roller



CROWTHER -- James I. Crowther Jr., age 68, a resident of Albuquerque, passed away Saturday, October 25, 2008. He is survived by his daughters, Catherine Fraser and husband, Robert of Albuquerque, Carolyn Roller and husband, Michael of Fort Collins, CO and Cristin Crowther of Albuquerque; and his sister, Nancy Berman and husband, Robert of Woodstock, MD. Jim was blessed with six grandchildren, Andrew, Zachary and Nathaniel Fraser, and Rachel, Joshua, and Adam Roller. He was preceded in death by his daughter, Karen Crowder; and two precious grandchildren, Patrick and Amy Fraser. Jim was born in Baltimore, MD in 1940 to James and Estelle Crowther and was married to Linda Gempp Crowther from 1961 to 1998. He graduated from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in 1961 and served in the U.S. Army for 20 years. Jim's service included two combat tours of duty in Vietnam plus assignments in Germany, Taiwan, and locations throughout the US. He earned a Master of Science degree in Nuclear Engineering and taught at West Point in addition to his command, staff, advisory, and research assignments. Jim retired from the Army in 1981 at the rank of Lt. Colonel. His military decorations include five Bronze Star medals, the Legion of Merit, the Air Medal and others. Jim moved to Albuquerque in 1981 and joined Sandia National Laboratories where he worked for 21 years. His activities at Sandia Labs centered on analysis of conventional and nuclear military operations and weapon systems, and included interaction with a wide range of military agencies in the US and overseas. Jim retired from Sandia Labs in 2002 and enjoyed travel, military history, sports, and family activities. He maintained contact with fellow Vietnam veterans, especially from the First Infantry Division and the First Combat Engineer Battalion. Memorial Services will be held Friday, October 31, 2008, at 10:00 a.m., at French Mortuary, Wyoming Blvd. Chapel. Interment of cremains will follow at Sunset Memorial Park, 924 Menaul Blvd. NE. The family requests that memorial contributions be made to the charity of your choice. French Mortuary, Inc. 7121 Wyoming Blvd. NE (505) 823-9400

Assembly/Taps Memorial Article: 


James L Crowther, Jr. '61

No. 23334 • 19 Apr 1940 - 25 Oct 2008
• Died in Albuquerque, NM
Interred in Sunset Memorial Park, Albuquerque, NM

I wanted to write my own memorial because I'd seen a few from other grads and thought most came across as a little more informal, plus I liked their little vignettes of life that others wouldn't know about.  Probably most of all, I wanted to put down a few words of my own about how much West Point has meant and the satisfying life I had to look back on because of it.  Our four years at the Academy are such a small fraction of our life span-maybe only six or seven percent of our time alive but the intensity and direction of those years are felt for so long afterwards.   

As far as I know, I hold the distinction of being the only member of my class to wear both kinds of stars, turn-out and academic, the same year. The academic stars I credit to my high school; the turn-out stars were courtesy of the PE Department, my scourge all four years at West Point.  But because of them, in later life, I went to the gym like I probably wouldn't have done otherwise, and so I stayed in half-decent shape.  So that's one long shadow from West Point.   

My roommate most of the time at the Academy was Don Walsh.  We didn't much keep in touch for a long while after graduation, but I treasure the afternoon we got together about 45 years later in Pittsburgh, where Don had settled.  Same with Gus Stiehl - we three roomed together for a year, and I lost contact with him altogether, but I had dinner with Gus and his lady at his place in Arizona, and those 45 years completely melted away for awhile.  More long shadows from West Point.   

I went Engineers after graduation and led my first platoon and company in the 4th Infantry Division at Ft. Lewis, WA.  I remember seeing guys I knew from earlier classes at the Academy, including some I wasn't especially impressed with as cadets, but who had already matured into competent and confident leaders.  The seeds had sprouted, and I hoped the same would apply to me.   

My next assignment was with a small advisory team on remote Matsu Island just off the coast of mainland China. Then I went to grad school at the USAF Institute of Technology at Wright-Patterson AFB, one of only three or four Army types in a sea of zoomies.  I told them I was outnumbered but not outmanned.  There I found out that Air Force guys aren't so bad after all.  One of them enjoyed swatting the shoes of his compadres during our BS sessions, telling them to "get your feet off the desk when you're talking to an Army officer!"   

Next was the highlight of my Army career, command of Charlie Company, 1st Engineers, with the Big Red One in Viet Nam.  I couldn't begin to collect the words to describe the experience of that year.  Suffice it to say that, given there had to be a Viet Nam, I wouldn't trade that year for anything.  I always would have wondered what Viet Nam and combat were really like and how I would have reacted in that environment.  Maybe what sticks with me most about that time is how, even during the draft, the guys in my company put themselves at risk willingly and repeatedly, day after day, with everything to lose and nothing to gain except getting the job done.  We are a fortunate country with sons like that.  Maybe my best personal compliment from that time came decades later, when I met my old jeep driver and his family for dinner, and his wife took me aside to say, "He always speaks highly of you." 

After Viet Nam came teaching Math at West Point, a lot of fun and the best family assignment of my career.  I passed the exams for a Professional Engineer license in Pennsylvania while there too.  Then it was back to Viet Nam for a second tour, this time with an advisory team to a Vietnamese Army Engineer Group at Hoc Mon.  Not very satisfying, since we basically were working ourselves out of a job and turning things over to the Vietnamese before the big pullout.  Leavenworth was followed by a research assignment at the Los Alamos National Laboratory, birthplace of our country's nuclear weapons program, that shaped my second career after retirement from the Army.   

I spent three years at Headquarters, U.S. European Command, as chief of the nuclear plans shop, my only experience at high-level staff and my only Joint experience too.  A quick year at Ft. Belvoir with the Army Nuclear and Chemical Agency, and it was time to hang up my spurs and move on.  In 1981, I signed up with Sandia National Laboratories in Albuquerque and worked there for 21 great years, mostly doing systems analysis of new conventional and nuclear weapons systems.  I found that the military isn't the only place with dedicated and patriotic people, but there is a difference between "working at" a civilian company and "being in" the military. 

Along the way, I picked up a Legion of Merit, five Bronze Stars, an Air Medal and some others.  In retirement, I enjoy grand-dadding, traveling, military history activities, and keeping up contacts from Army days.  I had many good years with my only wife Linda, but, unfortunately, the marriage ended in divorce in 1998.  We had three great daughters, Cathy, Carri, and Crissi, and six grandkids. 

Supposedly one of the ancient Greeks said, "Every man thinks less of himself for not having been a soldier."  I'm glad I didn't have to find out if that's true.

-Self written,
James Irving Crowther, Jr.