Remembering Pamela Crowell, 1943-2009

The six lines in the death notice for Pamela Crowell  in the Nevada Appeal Wednesday (10-21-2009) could in no way capture the essence of the charm,  accomplishments and vitality of my dear friend who left this Earth at her home on Monday.

It was with shock and great sadness that I received a call that afternoon from her brother, Timothy Bissell telling me of his sister's passing.

Pam and I had been friends for more years than I can count but had not been in touch or seen each other for some time. About two years ago, she lapsed into an unexplainable, at least to me, reclusiveness, according to her brother and longtime close friends Ann and Jim Roberts, rarely venturing from her west side Carson City home.

Pam had always been a very private person but she became "remarkably reclusive," Bissell told me.

The cause of death, at 66, of the 54-year resident will not be determined for about two weeks, he said. But he told me that early last week she notified him that she had suffered a "massive seizure followed by a fall" that resulted in a great deal of pain.

Bissell said when Pam told him about it he insisted that she make an appointment with a doctor he recommended. She made the appointment for last Friday but later canceled it.

"She was terrified of doctors" said Bissell.

Three days later she was found dead in her home.

No services are planned as were Pam's wishes. She will be cremated.

Rather than dwell on the circumstances of her death and what caused her to shy away from human contact, I feel compelled to focus on the extraordinary warm, delightful and accomplished woman she was.

Pammy as I called her (she addressed me usually as Auntie) was a passionate environmentalist and lover of all creatures big and small. She delighted in in feeding carrots and apples to the deer that would come on her deck, describing to me on the telephone  in enthusiastic detail   their behavior and appearance.

She was a tireless member of  the Democratic Party, working in the Carson City office of  U.S. Sen. Howard Cannon, D-Nev., serving as chairwoman of the Carson City Democratic Central Committee and  being extremely active in the Carson City Democratic Women's Club.

Her organizational skills and energy were legendary, and she usually ended up performing 95 per cent of the tasks associated with Democratic events and fund-raisers.

Her selection by then-Secretary of State Dean Heller, a Republican,  as deputy in charge of elections was greeted with vociferous negativity by members of the GOP. But with her tremendous degree of perfectionism and professionalism, she served Heller well for about two years when he requested, and received, her resignation. Pam always believed his actions resulted from his desire to bring a family member of a GOP crony into that position.

"When he (Heller) let her go that just about broke her heart," Bissell told me.

Years earlier, Pam worked for the Nevada State Museum as registrar of acquisitions, a role that was a perfect fit for someone with her keen knowledge of and interest in the arts.

No challenge was too daunting  for Pam. With no training or experience in journalism, she agreed to write an entertainment column for the Appeal. She reveled in the opportunity to interview headliners at the big Stateline/Lake Tahoe casino-hotels and did an admirable  job of writing about them.

We loved to see her enter the newsroom with her copy. Always perfectly groomed and dressed, Pam had an undeniable flair for fashion and just the right accessories. She always presented herself in public with elegance.

Pam was the most generous and caring person I have ever known. I can recall countless times when she drove me to a doctor's appointment, retrieved my prescriptions and listened without impatience when I had a personal issue.

I called her at 2:00 a.m. on a Saturday morning after a call from the Reno Veteran's Administration Hospital notifying me that my longtime companion had died. She arrived at my house in less than five minutes, barefoot because she hadn't taken time to put on her shoes.

There are too many instances to recount about her efforts on behalf of those in need, but it goes without saying that she was as beautiful inside as out.

Her brother, Timothy Bissell explained the briefness of the death notice in the Appeal as being "terse" at his direction.

He said he simply wished to notify people of her passing and didn't find a need "to blow any horns."

It's obvious that  humility runs in the family.

Yes, Pammy was in many ways a very private person.

And in death she did it her way.

Farewell mi gran amiga.

You are missed already.

Carson City resident Sue Morrow is a longtime Nevada journalist and member of the Nevada Press Association Newspaper Hall of Fame.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Our friend Pam passed away sometime over the weekend of Oct. 17-18 and was found at her home on Oct. 19.

All remembrances and photos will be most welcome and permanently posted at this site. An edited version of Sue Morrow's remembrance was published in the Carson City Nevada Appeal on Oct. 21, 2009.

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