Josephine "Josie" Matilda Crowson
Josephine Matilda Crowson (known as Josie), a loving, generous and adventurous mother, sister, daughter, partner, friend and colleague, died May 28, 2018, in Fredericksburg, Va., after a long and brave battle with lung cancer. Josie is survived by her partner, George D. Crowson, who grew up in Piggott, Ark. She is also survived by her sister, Lucy Polter and brother-in-law Dan Polter; her daughters, Jessica, Kate and Dot, and their families – sons-in-law Mark, Dave and Dan, and six grandchildren – Kyla, Tara, Alec, Grove, Erin and Noah. Josie lost her son, Patrick, in 1990. Josie will be remembered by many other dear family and friends that she felt lucky to have shared in her amazing life.
Josie was born in 1942 in Fort Worth, Tex., to Laura (Harris) Townsend and Winford Townsend. She is remembered by her family and friends as kind, warm, intelligent, selfless, and funny, as a hard worker and as a good listener who always tried to make others feel welcome and special. As one dear friend described her, she was “funny, smart as a whip, kind, and fierce all in one.”
Growing up, she loved playing outdoors, taking care of animals, playing music, and chasing after her older brother and sister – Garland Stell and Lucy Polter. She left home at 17 to attend the University of Texas at Austin, where she earned her bachelor’s degree in economics. She went on to complete a Ph. D. in 1970 at Iowa State University, where her thesis focused on monetary policy during the early stages of the Great Depression. She carried that schooling into a nearly 25-year career in the financial sector, during which she served as an economist at the Federal Home Loan Bank Board, as director of interest-rate risk management at the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation and as a long-term editor of the trade journal, Secondary Mortgage Markets.
Josie raised her family of four children – Jessica, Kate, Patrick and Dot – in Fairfax, Va., where she was active in a number of community activities, supported her kids in numerous adventures and served as PTA president for her kids’ elementary school. She and her partner, George Crowson, met on the dance floor and spent many wonderful evenings at Northern Virginia social dance clubs. They retired to a 51-acre farm in Nacogdoches, Tex., in 1997, where they raised Black Angus cattle. There, Josie developed an avid interest in gardening, and started her own cut-flower business, Josie’s Fresh Flowers, in 2002. She gradually expanded her plots to an acre of cultivated land and a greenhouse, where she grew lilies, delphinium, snapdragons, lisianthus, sunflowers, zinnias, celosia and many more varieties, for the East Texas floral market, farmers’ markets, special events and subscriptions. She also chaired the Nacogdoches Farmers’ Market Advisory Board, and volunteered countless hours with Master Gardeners groups in Nacogdoches and in Fredericksburg. Josie became a tremendously active member of the Association of Specialty Cut Flower Growers (ASCFG), a national trade organization with over 1,500 members. Josie served as a regional director, and as an officer and member of the Board of Directors, even after she and George returned to Virginia in 2011. Her work for ASCFG culminated in her proudest professional achievement, a documentary film called Local Farmers, Local Flowers: A Growing Movement. The film educates consumers about the benefits of purchasing locally grown cut flowers instead of those shipped from across the country or abroad. She conceived the project, recruited top film directors to create it, produced it and helped disseminate it to regional farmers and gardening groups. Soon before Josie’s death, she was gratified to learn that the film had been viewed more than 214,000 times on YouTube.
Along the way, Josie and George built a life of adventure and exploration, traveling to national and state parks in Alaska, Canada, Wyoming and the northeast, dancing together at events in Northern Virginia and Nacogdoches, developing and tending to their farm, and visiting with family and friends at home and around the country. Josie loved any new challenge, and she shared this passion for life in any number of ways – parasailing in the Caribbean with her daughters, taking her granddaughters on special trips to new parts of the country, jumping with both feet into a new flower growing business with no background in the industry, becoming a community organizer in Nacogdoches, and raising cattle for the first time at 55.
If you would like to honor Josie’s memory with a financial gift, please consider making a donation in her name to one of the following organizations that she supported: Association of Specialty Cut Flower Growers (ascfg.org), Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden (lewisginter.org), or the American Cancer Society (www.cancer.org)