VHHS mourns the loss of Dr. Crowle

Long-time choral accompanist remembered by students and staff


A picture of Dr. Crowle while he was playing piano at the First Presbyterian church of Deerfield.

On March 16, students and staff at Vernon Hills High School were distraught by the passing of Dr. William Crowle, usually called “Bill,” the accompanist for all the choir classes since the year 2000.

“Dr. Crowle was kind of the rock of the music department,” Mr. Little, choir teacher at VHHS, said. “He was very calm and steady, he always wanted to support students… He never made students feel like they were anything less than capable.”

Dr. Crowle began playing piano at the age of four. As he kept playing, he realized that he wanted to be a professional pianist.

Dr. Crowle was considered a prodigy when he started playing, and Mr. Little said he was known throughout Deerfield High School as the guy who played the piano.

After high school, he earned his bachelor’s in composition from the Eastman School of Music. After that, he studied at Indiana University where he got his masters, and eventually, his doctorate in composition.

In the 19 years that he was an accompanist at VHHS, students and staff got to know him very well, and Dr. Crowle made a grand effort to get to know all the students.

“He learned all the students names every year. The first day of school, he took pictures home and learned names. He wanted to make a connection with everyone. He was part of our family,” Mr. Little said.

These feelings were shared by Ethan Gerken (11), a choir student who was one of the students closest to Dr. Crowle.

“He was the type of person that people wanted to know, and he wanted to know people,” Gerken said.

Dr. Crowle was also known for his humility towards his skill, which is shown in a story shared by Fine Arts Department Supervisor Mr. Russell.

Russell asked Dr. Crowle if he had ever gotten a raise since he started working at VHHS and Dr. Crowle replied with “Oh, no.”

“In 18 years of being an absolute staple, he never even asked for a raise. He was here for the music and the kids… we obviously gave him a raise,” Mr. Russell said.

Because of his ability to connect to students, Dr. Crowle inspired a lot of students during his time at VHHS.

One student, Jillian Boes (12), felt very close to Dr. Crowle, as she’s in choir and needed him as an accompanist for different auditions. Boes felt that he really made an impact on her as a person.

“Dr. Crowle inspired me to be a better person, not just musician, by teaching me the significance of just appreciating something for what it is,” Boes said.

One story that Gerken recalled was when Dr. Crowle came back for the choir festival and played for everyone.

“After he got sick, he was out for a while and not able to play piano, but he came back this year for first semester, and in January, he played at the big choir festival and… there was something so powerful behind it, seeing him play after he had been so sick… everyone was clapping,” Gerken said.

Stevan Pastar (12) shared this story as an impactful moment for him.

“I think it was the last time he came to the school, and that was a really powerful moment for me, watching someone so sick come out on stage and perform for hundreds of people,” Pastar said.

Dr. Crowle’s talent and kindness seemed to let him connect with his students on an emotional level, leaving an overall positive impact at this school, and according to students and staff who worked with him, he will be greatly missed at VHHS.

“He was the most gifted person I have worked with, period. He could have been performing all over the world with his level of nuance and dedication, but simply being able to share his gift with those around him was enough,” Boes said.

To commemorate Dr. Crowle’s memory, VHHS will now be offering the Dr. William A. Crowle memorial award each year to students who share his qualities of humility, talent and collaborative spirit.