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Karen DeCrow Remembered as a Fearless Pioneer for Women's Rights

One of Karen DeCrow's long-time friends is remembering her as a sweet, kind, loving, and funny trailblazer for gender equality.  DeCrow passed away Friday morning at her home in Jamesville after long battle with melanoma.  She was 76.  

  She made a name for herself in the 1970's as a new lawyer and president of the National Organization for Women, when she successfully fought to maintain and strengthen Title IX to ensure equal access to sports at colleges that receive federal money.  Rowena "Rocki" Malamud was friends with DeCrow for 50 years, and is President of the Syracuse Chapter of NOW.  Malamud credits DeCrow for leading her down career paths she never planned on.  She hopes women today realize the struggle of the day.  

DeCrow blazed paths that others could follow.  Perhaps she laid the groundwork for Stephanie Miner to become Syracuse Mayor.  DeCrow herself ran in 1969 as a law school student in her 30's, the first woman to do so.  Miner released a statement upon news of DeCrow's passing:

"Karen was a treasure to our community and will be dearly missed. She leaves behind an unrivaled legacy of advocacy and leadership which we can all look to as inspiration in our daily lives. Never did Karen think why something couldn’t be done, she stood up and was the change she sought to bring to our community. From leading our local chapter of the National Organization for Women, she rose up to be the national president of the organization. In 1969, she even ran for Mayor of Syracuse—the first woman ever to do so. Now as I sit in that chair, I have an even deeper respect for the grit and determination she applied to her everyday life. Her perseverance, dedication, and strong work ethic made a major difference in our community and across the country and I encourage everyone to look to her as an example of how small steps can lead to big change.”

DeCrow graduated from Syracuse University's College of Law in 1972, the only woman in her class.  She was inducted into the National Women's Hall of Fame in Seneca Falls in 2009.  DeCrow was twice divorced.  She's survived by a sister.   

Scott Willis covers politics, local government, transportation, and arts and culture for WAER. He came to Syracuse from Detroit in 2001, where he began his career in radio as an intern and freelance reporter. Scott is honored and privileged to bring the day’s news and in-depth feature reporting to WAER’s dedicated and generous listeners. You can find him on twitter @swillisWAER and email him at