Mary, or “Polly” as she was affectionately known as she shared the same name as her mother, brightened the world with her birth on Nov. 1, 1931 in Bryn Mawr, Pa. She was the middle child of the Reverend Stephen “Brooks” Knowlton and Mary Dow Mutch Knowlton.
She grew up in Sharon Hill, Pa, and her bubbly, contagious laugh, her beautiful singing voice, her caring for all those around her, and her sparkling sense of humor made her a well-known member of the community. An avid swimmer who spent each summer at her beloved family summer home “Sunnyneuk” in Maine, Polly excelled in sports ranging from swimming, water ballet, and gymnastics, to field hockey and basketball, as well as English Saddle horseback riding. She also enjoyed ballet, tapdancing and doing the occasional Highland Fling and Sword Dance which had been carefully taught to her by her mother, a native of Scotland.
After graduating from Sharon Hill High School in 1949, she earned her AA degree from Centenary Junior College for Women in Hackettstown, N.J., before entering Columbia University’s Presbyterian College of Nursing. She loved living in downtown New York in an apartment on 168th Street, walking the George Washington Bridge to picnics with her friends, and earning spending money during school by modeling hats and gloves for New York City’s upscale department stores. She graduated with her BSN degree in 1954, and went to work at Columbia Presbyterian Babies’ Hospital, caring for preemie babies, supervising and serving as an Instructor in pediatrics.
She married Frederick K. Crookshank, Jr. at Tully Memorial Presbyterian Church in Bryn Mawr, Pa. on Oct. 12, 1956, in a society event, and then settled in to full-time wife and motherhood with the birth of their first son, Rick in 1957. Robert, Elyse and Holly added to the family over the next several years, and Polly volunteered at each of their schools as a School Nurse to be near her kids and help the community.
She also finished an advanced degree in Bible studies, enriching her love for history and theology. An insatiable researcher, Polly could name every Pharoah in Egyptian history, and also traced her own family’s genealogy back to the 10th century through Scottish and English royalty. She loved to travel both home and abroad. Polly was a member of the National Society Daughters of the American Revolution, Alpha Delta Pi Sorority, and was an avid gardener, needleworker, and gourmet cook. After her husband, Fred, passed away in 1990, She retired to Maine and then spent the years splitting her time between Maine and Oklahoma with her daughters.
She loved to sing, and in everything she did she praised the Lord, demonstrating in her life one of her favorite passages: Psalm 100. Her wit and wisdom will be sorely missed, as well as her infectious smile that lit up the room as she entered and the little twinkle in her eye that made one wonder just what little funny or cute situation she was about to spring upon us. She had one of the brightest outlooks on life, no matter the challenges she faced. She truly was the embodiment of Proverbs 31, “Many daughters have done well, but you excel them all.”
On Sunday, May 12 (Mothers Day, and on the day that would have been her late husband’s 94th birthday) she entered “His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise” to join the eternal celebration of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
She was preceded in death by her parents and brothers, Andrew and Stephen Knowlton, her husband Frederick, and stillborn twin sons. She is survived by her son Frederick Stephen and his wife Betsy, son Robert Jeffrey and his wife Esther, her daughter Elyse, daughter Holly and her husband Terry Gerard II, 10 grandchildren and 2 great-grandchildren.
A memorial service is planned in Deer Isle, Maine, where she will be interred in the Knowlton sectional of Hillside Cemetery in July, 2019.