A woman who defined herself by how much she loved others died Sunday at Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital after a stroke. Marcy Novak Crandell was a writer, a lecturer, an avid traveler, a real estate broker, a motel manager, a dance teacher, and a keen student of literature. But no roles suited her as well as those of mother and grandmother.

“Many mothers’ love is special,” said her son, Larry Crandell Jr. “However, we were lucky enough to receive the very special love of someone who genuinely rejoiced in even our smallest victories, consoled all defeats, and was there like a rock when we needed her.”

A rosary vigil will be held at St. Barbara’s Parish at the Old Mission at 7 p.m. Thursday. A memorial mass will be offered, also at the Mission, at 10 a.m. Friday. The public is welcome at both services.

Marcy Crandell, 1925-2008

Marcella Novak Crandell, 83, mother of five, grandmother of nine and great-grandmother of two, died Sunday at Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital after a stroke. She was surrounded by her loving family in her last days and her final moments were very peaceful.

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Marcy Crandell

Marcy was born in Mauk Chunk, Pennsylvania on April 25, 1925. She grew up healthy and happy in the small coal-mining town of Ashley. Her mother and father had both been deprived of an education by tragedy. Lena Novak had to stop school in sixth grade to take care of her family when her father died. Michael Novak went to work in the coal mines when he was only 8 years old after his father died.

But with the support of her parents, Marcy excelled at school and in higher education, getting her Master’s degree in English Literature from Barnard College and completing all the course work for her Ph.D. at Columbia University.

Marcy was a real-life Rosie the Riveter during World War II, working as a welder in a massive shipyard.

Once she hung up her welding mask and gloves, she became a scholar of Shakespeare in New York City, as one of the very few female doctoral students at Columbia.

To earn her way, she became an Arthur Murray ballroom dancing teacher, bringing home the impressive sum of $2 an hour. It was there in downtown Manhattan she met another dance teacher, Larry Crandell. Their romance began over two 5-cent Cokes at a local drug store. They were married in 1950 and honeymooned in Bermuda.

The arrival of children soon changed Marcy’s plans to become a professor. Loving and nurturing her children was by far the strongest motivation in her life.

However, she never lost her appetite for learning or her ability to respond to difficulty with hard work and creativity. While raising her children, she also managed to lecture in English at UCSB, become a real estate broker, manage a motel in Arizona and write beautiful stories and poems. She also had a passion to see the world, and traveled extensively, often with family, to China, Japan, Europe, the South Pacific, North Africa, and throughout North America.

Her children all followed her example of seeking higher education. Ashley Crandell Amos, the eldest, who died in 1989, was a scholar of Old English as a professor at the University of Toronto as well as editor of the Dictionary of Old English. All of her children were inspired by her love of Shakespearean drama and most of them, as well as several grandchildren, took to the stage in school and college productions.

Survivors include Marcy’s husband, Larry; her children, Larry Jr., Michael and his wife, Sunny, Steven and his wife, Kathleen, and Leslie; her grandchildren, Sarah and her husband Paul Luoma, Megan, Maren, Isaac, Caitlin, David, Luke, Josette and Nathaniel; and her great-grandchildren, Isabel and Olivia.

A Rosary will be held at the Santa Barbara Mission, 2201 Laguna St., at 7 p.m. Thursday. A mass will be offered, also at the Mission, at 10 a.m. Friday. The public is welcome at both memorial services.

In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to the Ashley Crandell Amos Memorial Fund at the Scholarship Foundation of Santa Barbara, P.O. Box 3620, Santa Barbara 93130. Any donation check can be made out to the foundation with a designation for the Ashley Crandell Amos Memorial Fund.

Family members remember Marcy as a person whose love never faltered. William Shakespeare, whom Marcy adored, wrote words that sum up her approach to life and her dedication to those closest to her:

… Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove:
O no! it is an ever-fixed mark
That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wand’ring bark,
Whose worth’s unknown, although his height be taken.

Steven Crandell is Marcy Crandell’s youngest son.