Marshall Lee Crowther

September 2, 1937 – June 1, 2024

Marshall grew up on a shorthorn cattle farm in Salina, Kansas.  He had an idyllic and hardworking childhood helping with the daily chores, playing in the baseball and basketball leagues and was very active over many years in his local 4-H club.  His family hosted and housed both American soldiers preparing to leave for World War II as well as German POWs who found the farm work and hospitality a reprieve from the front lines in Europe.  In this childhood Marshall honed his skills of negotiating, debating, putting in the time to do things right, and the ability to gracefully compromise while still holding onto one’s beliefs.  In high school he was active in Boys State and debate and was able to reach national recognition in these endeavors.

Marshall started undergraduate studies at Kansas University and was proud to be a member of the Delta Upsilon fraternity.  He may have loved too much besides the academics of college and eventually graduated from Kansas Wesleyan but returned to KU to earn his JD degree.  It was during law school that he met the love of his life, Sandee (nee Garvey), in the university Student Senate.

He served in the US Army Reserves and was honorably discharged in 1964.

Marshall worked for the state of Kansas for more than 44 years in several capacities over the span of his career.  He started his service in 1966 as an attorney with the Kansas Highway Commission.  In 1967 he became the General Counsel for KPERS and in 1981 was named Executive Secretary of KPERS.  He joined the Kansas Insurance Department in 1992 as a Hearing Officer/Attorney.  In 1995 he began with the Judicial Branch where he served as Administrative Services Officer for the Office of Judicial Administration until his retirement at 73 in 2010.  In addition he served as a Special Assistant Attorney General for four different Attorney Generals from 1969 to 1991.  He enjoyed all of his jobs and was able to travel both out of state and to all 105 counties in Kansas.  He used to joke that his last job for the state he was merely driving around in the state and visiting and dining with old colleagues; something he very much enjoyed. 

Marshall believed in public service and was driven to contribute in his community.  He was a founding board member and past director for the Lawrence Boys Club (now expanded to the Boys and Girls Club of Lawrence).  He participated in the Kansas Jaycees and served as Legal Counsel for the organization. Marshall was a life member of the Elks Lodge and in Lawrence and went on to serve as Exalted Ruler for B.P.O.E. 595.  A longtime member of First Presbyterian Church Marshall served on their Board of Trustees.  He was a member of both the Kansas and Douglas County Bar Associations.  He continued to serve his fraternity, Delta Upsilon, well past graduation by later years sitting as a member as well as a past president for the Alumni Board for Kansas Delta Upsilon. He served as a trustee for KNEA from 1984 until 2017.

Marshall was a true family man, in a private and quiet way.  He was always meaningfully present for his daughters and a true partner in life to his wife.  He took pride in his frugality and was constantly finding ways to repair things instead of replace them.  He could darn his own socks, alter a cheerleading uniform, did the laundry for the whole household, dig up every weed with his hands, and shoot or trap any critter that found its way into the yard from the creek and woods behind it.  He was not done with a car until he could drive at least 300 thousand miles on it.  Vacations with his family were his recharge and always somewhere warm and on the water. 

He was an active tennis player until his 50s and was always a runner, enjoying participating in road races in the area.  As he got older, the running turned into half day walks all around town.  Though he lived on the south side of town, he could often be seen walking north of the river or out towards Clinton Lake.  He and his wife were fixtures at many local restaurants.

Preceded in death by his parents, Howard and Vesta Crowther, as well as his sister Judy Vader.  He is survived by his wife of 57 years, Sandee, as well as his daughters Carrie Crowther and Cherie Elo.  He also enjoyed all of his time spent with his four granddaughters: Violet and Wren Williamson and Pearl and Marin Hoover.

Perhaps what will be remembered most about Marshall is his quick wit.  He always had an apropos comeback for any person and any situation that would make the experience better.  Sometimes it would elicit a laugh or smile, sometimes a groan or an eyeroll. But it always worked.

Throughout his life Marshall donated blood to the Red Cross and Community Blood Center.  It was documented that he donated well over 73 gallons of blood in his lifetime. Please consider attending a blood drive or encourage others to donate blood.

A celebration of Marshall and his life will be at 10:30am on Saturday July 13, 2024, at First Presbyterian Church in Lawrence.  All are welcome to share in this time of reflection with his family.  His final resting place will be the family plot at Gypsum Hill Cemetery in Salina, Kansas.

18 Condolences

  1. Tara Merkel Nicholas on June 7, 2024 at 3:56 pm

    Marshall’s Family:

    I worked for him at KPERS from 1983-1989 when I transferred to KDHE. He was the only man I know that could truly embarrass me like no other. Years later I was living in Lawrence, and ran into him at the Presbyterian Church I ended up getting married at. He was sitting by me in the pew one Sunday before we decided to get married in that church. I was shocked to see him. Bless him what a wonderful man he truly was. May peace be with his family at this time.

  2. Sheila Warren on June 7, 2024 at 11:36 pm

    Marshall was smart and witty. He was fun to talk with and could always tell a joke. He earned much respect from me and I miss him. We talked about being from central Kansas, 4H, running, and being a lawyer along with many other things. His face lit up when he smiled and that is what I’ll miss the most.

  3. John Esau on June 8, 2024 at 12:08 pm

    Marshall was a good friend and DU Fraternity Brother. His obituary captures well the essence of his character, and he will be remember by me, above all else by his loyalty. Rest in peace, brother.

  4. Mary Whitaker Davidson on June 8, 2024 at 10:37 pm

    I knew Marshall and Sandy starting when Sandy was my teacher in junior high school. Through they years I always enjoyed visiting with them. They lived in my neighborhood and I saw Marshall running or walking all the time. What an accomplished but down to earth person. I always enjoyed chatting with Marshall as he was so interesting, sharp, funny and friendly. What a nice man. To their daughters-my thoughts and prayers are with you.

  5. Sue Haley on June 9, 2024 at 7:13 am

    Well done, good and faithful servant 💜😇

  6. Joyce Tallman on June 9, 2024 at 9:06 am


    My thoughts and prayers to your family.

    Joyce Tallman

  7. Phyllis Lewin on June 9, 2024 at 9:17 am

    I am so sorry for your loss. Condolences to you and yours. I did not know Marshall but knowing you, I knew he was special.
    I continue to be grateful to you for your friendship and mentorship years ago in the LPS.
    His obituary tells us all how remarkable he was and how he was cherished by all who knew him.
    May he rest in peace.
    Phyllis Lewin

  8. Valerie Foos on June 9, 2024 at 12:55 pm

    Marshall and Sandee were our neighbors on a cul-de-sac for many years in Lawrence. We enjoyed bringing up our children together and attending block parties, where we had many interesting conversations. Eventually, we all moved to other locations, but we still often witnessed Marshall jogging all over town. He and Sandee accomplished many things in life, but I know how vey proud they were of their two daughters, Carrie and Cherie–women who will always treasure the lessons they learned from their parents. My heart is with you in this loss.
    Love, Valerie Foos

  9. Nicole Bakerink on June 10, 2024 at 8:47 am

    Sandee, Carrie, and Cherie,
    I am so sorry for your loss. I have such happy memories of growing up next to the Crowthers. Marshall’s obituary was interesting to read and shows what a full life he lived. Thinking of you during this difficult time.
    Nicole Bakerink

  10. Sheryl Sigler Henry on June 11, 2024 at 10:35 am

    I knew Marshall and Sandee (like Mary) from Jr high. Sandee hosted early morning pajama pancake breakfasts many times. You know Marshall was a great guy to put up with that! I always appreciated their involvement in our lives. My thoughts and prayers are with you in this time of loss. He was very special.

  11. Tom Murray on June 12, 2024 at 9:32 am

    Marshall Crowther was a one-of-a-kind nice guy and a friend to all. May he rest in peace.

  12. Catherine Hess (Cathy Winters) on June 13, 2024 at 11:22 am

    I am so sorry to hear of Marshall’s passing. I will never forget the dread he invoked when explaining to the then 13 year old aspiring attorney that he would defend a person he knew to be guilty because everyone deserves a fair trial. I gave up my lawyer aspiration at that time because defending the guilty just didn’t feel right to a “wise” teen who was exploring her options on Career Day. Funny thing is, 30+ years later I actually did become a lawyer with a full understanding of everyone deserving a fair trial. You, as my 8th grade Core teacher, who actually called me out on my “stuff” in a supportive way, and Marshall as a mentor for my future were two very influential people in my life. Thank you and Marshall for that.

  13. Richard F Haitbrink on June 13, 2024 at 11:46 am

    Marshall was a long-time friend from childhood in Salina, KS, and also a DU fraternity brother at KU.
    His loyalty and support of his friends, his hometown, his school, his fraternity, his community and
    all of his outside interests was outstanding throughout his life. I was shocked and saddened to see
    the notice of his recent passing in the Kansas city Star Sunday. May you rest in peace Brother Crowther.

  14. Jack H. Brier, former KPERS Trustee and former Secretary of State on June 14, 2024 at 11:29 am

    Marshall defined the term GOOD GUY. Always a smile, a word of encouragement, an antidote to share, and fun to be around. I was proud to call him a friend. May his family feel the comfort and warmth from so many of us whose lives are richer because Marshall was a part of our lives.

  15. Kathy Bell on June 17, 2024 at 10:44 am

    Dear Sandee, Carrie and Cherrie, I met Sandee when she became my student teaching supervisor at South Junior High. She receommened me for hire the following year. Sandee and and taught together. She was my mentor through grad school at KU. She is the reason I pursued teaching for nearly 40 years in Illinois after moving from Lawrence. I spent many summer days at Sandee and Marshalls working on my masters and grad work.
    . Summer Cookouts, laughter. Marshall’s wit and kindness. As has been mentioned byy others, Marshall was a jogger, witty, caring father and husband, neighbor on the cu de. Carrie and Cherrie I loved being a small part of your growing up and, having a family and admire all your the care and love for your parents. You both learned from the best. Love,Kathy Bell

  16. Bruce Douglas on June 17, 2024 at 1:15 pm

    Sandee, Carrie, and Cherie,

    I am so, so sorry to hear of Marshall’s passing. Marshall and Sandee were the anchor at the end of the court when we were growing up in the 70’s. Marshall always had a smile and a wave for us when heading out on his jogging adventures. Life had moved us on when Marshall’s girls became the unofficial directors of the childhood mischievous that seemed to grow from one house on the court, or as they told me recently, the “Court House”. When driving around our enclosed childhood playground, which was 29th Court, the loving echos of the Crowther’s, Walter’s, Miller’s, Carmody’s, Leban’s and the Douglas’s still ring loud and strong. Thank you, Marshal for being such a dear, dear part of our lives.

  17. Robert Silipigni on June 22, 2024 at 5:47 pm

    Marshall was a wise, kind and generous soul. My thoughts are with his family. I know this gentleman will be missed.

  18. MJ Willoughby on July 6, 2024 at 5:59 pm

    I worked with Marshall for several years while he was working for the Judicial Branch. Marshall had quite the sense of humor, which was a real asset. Marshall was rightfully proud of the regularity and quantity of his blood donations. As indicated in the obituary, he was quite a walker, taking off at a brisk pace. I would see him all over town. He also enjoyed his vacations in the sun. He was one of a kind and will certainly be missed.

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