Grace was the youngest of seven children born to Grace and Lemuel Brown of Cleveland, Ohio, where her father taught Latin at a teachers’ college. From an early age, she demonstrated her talent for music and dramatics, which was encouraged by her family.
She met her future husband, Carlyle (Chris) Crecelius, while studying English and drama at Hiram College. They married in 1941 in Woods Hole, Massachusetts, and moved to the Northwest, locating to Vashon in 1946, where Chris co-founded Olympic Instruments. Grace, ever the optimist and energetic helpmate, gardened, milked their cow, and did the lion’s share of raising their five children. She continued singing for churches and ceremonies, doing some acting, and still found energy for progressive politics.
In 1962 she added a teaching certificate to her credentials and began teaching first grade on the island, determined to make readers of all her students, often using songs. Numerous organizations attracted Grace’s interest and generous instinct to help, including the Unitarian Fellowship, Vashon HouseHold, Great Books, The Land Trust, Drama Dock, and Granny’s Attic, to name several, often traveling back and forth on her bike. Her humor, willingness to help, and love for others and the island will be missed.
A son, Brian, died in 1961, and Chris, in 2005. She is survived by four children — Sylvia, Eric, and Marcia Crecelius, Kathryn Dorman – seven grandchildren, and twelve great-grandchildren.
A memorial is planned for the summer.