Walt Crowley

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Walt Crowley
Born(1947-06-20)June 20, 1947
DiedSeptember 21, 2007(2007-09-21) (aged 60)
OccupationHistorian, journalist, community activist
Spouse(s)Marie McCaffrey
Parent(s)Walter A. Crowley and Violet King (now Kilvinger)

Walter Charles Crowley (June 20, 1947 – September 21, 2007) was a Washington political celebrity. He first became a public figure in Seattle through his involvement with the social and political movements of the 1960s, especially the underground press. He later became more widely known as a local television personality and for his pioneering work as a local historian, including co-creating the Web site HistoryLink.org,[1] which he considered to be his crowning achievement.[2]


Born in Ferndale, Michigan, the only child of engineer and inventor Walter A. Crowley and Violet King (now Kilvinger), Walt lived in Royal Oak, Michigan, Flint, Michigan, the Washington, D.C. area and Connecticut until 1961, when his father was hired by Boeing and moved to Seattle.[1]

Crowley graduated from Seattle's Nathan Hale High School, winning state honors as an artist, and briefly worked at Boeing as an illustrator. Entering the University of Washington, he became active in local socialist, antiwar, and civil rights campaigns. In 1967, he joined Paul Dorpat's underground newspaper Helix as a cartoonist, writer, and editor. In 1968 he ran for the Washington State House of Representatives on the Peace & Freedom Party ticket.[1]

Crowley's service as mediator between the Seattle officials, local leaders, and the community's street people led to a youth hostel and social service agency called the U District Center; Crowley directed it from 1970 until 1972. He later worked for the Seattle Model Cities Program and then for the city itself in various planning and outreach roles.

He returned to private industry in 1977 and ran unsuccessfully for the Seattle City Council.[1] He had a variety of civic involvements afterwards, including serving as president of the venerable civic organization Allied Arts.

The Blue Moon Tavern, 2007. The sign at upper left dates from the 1960s and urges the reelection of liberal Democratic Washington State governor Albert Rosellini.

In 1980, Crowley formed Crowley Associates, which publishes guides to Seattle and provides services for many local political campaigns. He was a columnist and commentator in many local venues, most notably a seven-year run in a "Point-Counterpoint" format with conservative John Carlson on KIRO television.[1]

Crowley wrote several histories of local civic institutions, from the elite Rainier Club to the blue-collar Blue Moon Tavern. He led the campaign to save the Blue Moon from demolition, ran the task force that drafted new laws to restore historic Downtown theaters, and served on numerous other civic projects.[1]


In 1997, Crowley discussed preparing a Seattle-King County historical encyclopedia for the 2001 sesquicentennial of the Denny Party. His wife Marie McCaffrey suggested publishing the encyclopedia on the Internet.[1]

They and Paul Dorpat incorporated History Ink on November 10, 1997, with seed money from Priscilla "Patsy" Collins, by birth a member of Seattle's wealthy and prominent Bullitt family.[3] The prototype of HistoryLink.org debuted on May 1, 1998, and attracted additional funding for a formal launch in 1999. In 2003 HistoryLink.org expanded its content to cover Washington state history. Meanwhile, History Link continues, focusing on the production of history books.[1]

Crowley and HistoryLink.org have won many awards, including

  • The Pacific Northwest Historians Guild's 2007 History Award
  • The Washington State Historic Preservation Office's award for media in 2001
  • The Association of King County Historical Organizations

Personal life[edit]

Walt Crowley married graphic designer and business associate Marie McCaffrey in 1982.[1]

In 2005, Crowley was diagnosed with laryngeal cancer and fought it with characteristic stubbornness; the night before his larynx was removed, he held a "Famous Last (Natural) Words" party.[4]


  • Helix Drawings 1967-1970 (Seattle: Medium Rare, 1977)
  • The Compleat Browser's Guide to Pioneer Square (Seattle: Pioneer Square Association, 1981)
  • The Continental Family (Seattle: Continental Mortgage and Savings Bank, 1997)
  • Forever Blue Moon: The Story of Seattle's Most (In)Famous Tavern (Seattle: Blue Moon Tavern, 1992)
  • Group Health Timeline (Seattle: HistoryLink for Group Health Cooperative, 1997)
  • Historic Photos of Seattle (Paducah, Kentucky: Turner Publishing, 2006)
  • The National Trust Guide: Seattle (New York: National Trust for Historic Preservation/John Wiley & Sons, 1998)
  • The Rainier Club, 1888–1988 (Seattle: Rainier Club, 1988)
  • Rites of Passage: A Memoir of the Sixties in Seattle (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1995)
  • Routes: An Interpretative History of Public Transportation in Metropolitan Seattle (Seattle: Metro Transit, 1993)
  • The Seattle Aquarium's Guide to Life in the Sea (Seattle: City of Seattle, 1981)
  • Seattle & King County Timeline (Seattle: History Ink/University of Washington Press, 2001 & 2002)
  • Seattle University: A Century of Jesuit Education (Seattle: Seattle University, 1991)
  • The Woodland Park Zoo Guide (Seattle: Woodland Park Zoological Society, 1995)
  • To Serve the Greatest Number: A History of Group Health Cooperative of Puget Sound (Seattle: University of Washington Press/Group Health Cooperative, 1996)
  • William J. Sullivan, S. J.: Twenty Years (Seattle: Seattle University, 1996)


  • With Heather MacIntosh: The Story of Union Station in Seattle (Seattle: Sound Transit/History Ink, 1999)
  • With Kit Oldham: Moving Washington: A Timeline of the Washington State Department of Transportation, 1905-2004 (Seattle: HistoryLink/University of Washington Press, 2005)
  • With Robert Courland: The Fairmont: The First Century of a San Francisco Landmark (HistoryLink for Fairmont Hotels & Resorts, 2006)


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Long, Priscilla (September 21, 2007). "Crowley, Walt (1947-2007)". HistoryLink.org. Retrieved September 23, 2007.
  2. ^ "Walt Crowley, citizen historian, dies at 60". Associated Press. September 22, 2005. Archived from the original on October 2, 2007. Retrieved September 23, 2007.
  3. ^ Cassandra Tate, (July 3, 2003). "Collins, Dorothy Priscilla "Patsy" Bullitt (1920-2003)". HistoryLink.org. Retrieved 2007-10-13.CS1 maint: extra punctuation (link)
  4. ^ Lewis, Mike (February 9, 2007). "Historian's voice still fighting to be heard". Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Retrieved December 23, 2012.

External links[edit]