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Obits > 1998 - Norman A Crowder

Norman Allison Crowder
1921 - 1998

Norman A. Crowder, circa 1943 Norman Allison Crowder, 77, died of lung cancer Monday, May 11, 1998, at his home in Deer Grove, Illinois, surrounded by beloved friends and family.

Mr. Crowder, shown right circa 1943, was a scientist, inventor, teacher, musician, and raconteur.  Raised in Oregon on a shingle mill (read about it in his words here), he attended Reed College, Stanford University, St. Louis University Medical School, and the University of Chicago.  He was the author and editor of the TutorText series of instructional books published by Doubleday in New York, including The Arithmetic of Computers originally published in 1958, and the Aldus-Doubleday Science and Technology series published in London.  Mr. Crowder was the originator and chief spokesman of the branching theory of programmed instruction, which the TutorText series embodied.  He was also an accomplished electro-mechanical designer and inventor of the AutoTutor, a stand-alone, desktop teaching machine which used his branching theory to tailor the lesson being delivered to the responses of the student.  The original AutoTutor was released in the early 1960s, long before general-purpose desktop computers were feasible.  Later, as a Professor at the Illinois Technical College, he founded the Crowder Scientific Company and created the ITC Board as an aid for teaching digital electronics, which he did until his retirement.

Mr. Crowder's survivors include his daughters Lynn (Crowder) Houck and Beth Crowder (Wentz); his sons William and Thomas "T.J." Crowder (the webmaster of this site); his first wife Tudja (no last name); his second wife Virginia Crowder; his long-time companion Sharon Callaghan; and four grandchildren.

He requested no flowers be sent, but that those so moved make donations to St. Mary's Church of Tampico, IL, or to the Hospice of Rock River Valley [264 IL Rt 2, Dixon, IL; (815) 288-3673] whose kind and dedicated staff made it possible for him to spend the last weeks of his life at home and in relative comfort. 

Norman Allison Crowder was greatly loved, admired, and respected, and will be sorely missed not only by his family but by nearly any who got to know him.  A scholar, a man of science, a man of compassion, kindness, and the occasional bawdy song -- he was one of the world's better souls.

We love you, Dad.

Norman Allison Crowder
 April 6th, 1921: Sentenced to life 
 May 11th, 1998: Sentence commuted to time served 
(His own phrasing)

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