November 20, 1917 — December 28, 2020
Olene Crowley quietly passed away December 28, 2020 at The Groves Retirement Village in Independence, Missouri at the age of 103. It was probably the first time in her life that she did anything quietly. She had lived her life with a fire in her soul and in her actions. On December 30th the family gathered for a private funeral.
Gladys Olene Crowley was born November 20, 1917 at a farm near Creighton, Missouri to John and Grace Starks Trolinger. She was always known as Olene and later officially dropped the name Gladys. She grew up in Cass and Henry County, Missouri with her two brothers, Johnny and Carl. On September 26, 1934 she married Charley Rivers Crowley. To this union one son, Jerry Mack Crowley was born. She retained the farm mindset her whole life, and won numerous neighborhood awards for her beautiful yard. Her favorite days were spent digging in the dirt, planting and weeding. Visitors were often taken out to the lawn bench and table and chairs to visit, because she preferred to be outdoors. She had houseplants along with the yard and brought lots of pots inside for the winter so they would survive. She was always willing to share by giving someone a start of one of the plants.
Olene was a tiny ball of energy. Just 5 feet tall and about 100 pounds, she still had more energy than anyone half her age or twice her size. She began her work career in 1951 at National Photo, and followed that with jobs at Westinghouse, Benson Manufacturing, American Sash & Door, Bunting Hardware, Schneider Food, Sky Hobby, Great Western Textile, J C Nichols Industries, Peat Marwick, International Harvester, Navistar, Crimsco and Maincor. She was never let go, but was a victim of downsizing or business closure. She was receptionist, and often ran the switchboard in the days before call forwarding. She could keep track of a whole board full of offices and personnel. She kept a jar of peanut butter and a tablespoon on her desk for energy. She never was without work for over a week or so at most. She enjoyed dressing for the job. Her outfit, purse and 4” high heels all had to match and her makeup was flawless. She was so small, it was hard to find clothes to fit, so she was an expert at altering them. She wore those 4” heels everywhere, even at the beach. In the early 1950’s she started working nights in addition to her day job. She waited tables at the premier jazz clubs of the day, the Tracadero, the Cat Ballou, the Pink Garter and the Jewel Box. She worked until 1:30 AM and still got up in time to be at her day job. She never missed a day because of illness, and was never late to work.
Even though she worked two jobs, her main focus has always been her family. Her son, Jerry Mack was the moon and stars to her. His death from cancer in 1989 was the low point of her life. She then put her energy into her grandchildren, Dennis, Denise and Adam Crowley. Her younger brother, Johnny was killed in Italy during WWII. Her parents and older brother Carl all died within a period of seven months and one day. In addition, she was preceded in death by her husband Charley and grandson, Dennis.
She is survived by her two grandchildren, Denise Wallen and Adam Crowley, three great grandchildren, 5 great great grandchildren, a daughter in law, Linda Hartman and her husband David, along with numerous nieces and nephews. She will be greatly missed by all.
Olene’s immediate family gathered for a private funeral on December 30th, 2020.