Stained glass project to honor Walter and Marilyn Crow

Walter and Marilyn Crow did everything they could for Clarksville United Methodist Church and the community.

Now, the congregation is giving something back as part of its Save Our Stained Glass Windows campaign.

Proceeds of the fish fry taking place from 4 to 7 p.m. Friday, March 16, will go toward restoring the east windows, which include tributes to pioneer church members and a dedication to Walter Crow. As part of the restoration, Marilyn’s name is being added.

“The names on each of those windows, especially the ones I know, remind me of the legacy with which we’ve been entrusted,” said Janie Busch, an organizer of the fish fry. “In Hebrews 12:1, we are told ‘Therefore since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders…and run with perseverance the race set before us.’”

Walter and Marilyn Crow moved to Clarksville in 1947 with their children, Sherry and Randy, and opened Crow’s Drug Store. It was a popular place.

“My dad would take me there when I was little for a lime phosphate,” recalls church member Debra Crank-Lewis. “Mr. Crow was usually the one to mix the soda and he would chip the ice off a block with big shards and little chips, squirt the syrup in using a recycled dishwashing liquid bottle and shoot in the carbonated water. The drink was, in my seven-year-old mind, the nectar of the gods. I didn’t know that there were other flavors.”

Lewis later developed broader tastes that included vanilla Cokes, but she can at least in part thank the Crows for her culinary ability.

“One of the first ‘cookbooks’ I purchased outside of 4-H was a McCall’s Cooking School Baking magazine from their selection of magazines,” Lewis said. “I still have it and I learned to bake from it.”

“A lovely couple, always friendly and helpful,” added church member Barb Meyer. “They had an incredible store and were very accommodating.”

At Clarksville United Methodist, Walter got involved with the men’s group, the youth organization and church council. On winter Sunday mornings, he’d go in early and get the coal furnace going. The last project before he passed at age 81 on Oct. 10, 1999, was sanding and re-staining the oak pews in the sanctuary.

Marilyn was a member of the women’s organizations, youth group leader, church council member and a longtime Sunday School teacher. Lewis remembers her fondly.

“She was fun and patient with goofy little middle school age kids,” Lewis said. “We once debated the merits of writing with a pen versus pencil. Later, I taught the adult class for a time and she was one of the students and that was an odd feeling, but she was always interested and engaging, with a ready smile and sparkling eyes.”

Meyer taught school with both Marilyn Crow and Sherry Crow McCarty, and Randy Crow graduated from Clopton High School with Meyer’s husband, Tom.

“Marilyn was always optimistic, happy, full of energy,” Meyer said. “I don’t remember her ever turning down anyone who asked her to do anything. She loved children at home, at school, at Sunday School. She had a gentle way of making suggestions and getting things done. Always with a smile.”

Marilyn could also be found at just about every fund-raiser the congregation sponsored. She died at age 93 on March 21, 2015. Among her many recollections, Sherry Crow McCarty remembers her parents for all the good they did for Clarksville.

“The seeds they sowed have left a legacy of kindness and love shared by many,” said McCarty, who married her husband, Don, before the altar.

The east windows mark the $19,130 third phase of the Save Our Stained Glass project at the 111-year-old church. Art Glass Unlimited of St. Louis is doing the work.

The campaign began in October 2014. Fund-raisers have included soup luncheons and fish dinners. In addition, generous donations have been received. The first phase covering the south windows was completed in 2016 and the second phase featuring the north glass in 2017.

The March 16 menu features catfish and homemade slaw, baked beans, dessert, bread and beverage for $10 per plate. Carry-outs are available.

Though it’s a lot of work, Busch looks forward to the event. And if she needs inspiration, there’s always the group of volunteers that’s picked up from where Walter and Marilyn Crow left off.

“We are so lucky to have a group of men who work together to produce the most flavorful, crispy fish I’ve ever eaten,” she said. “Combine that team with a small army of cooks and bakers who know what ‘from scratch’ means, and you have a winner.”