Recently retired SIU professor and ‘Celtic Connections’ host Bryan Kelso Crow dies at 66

By McKenzie Johnston, Staff Reporter

Former professor and local Irish musician, Bryan Kelso Crow, died Sept. 29, 2019 at the age of 66.

In June Crow retired as a professor of Communication Studies at SIU after over 35 years. Dr. Sandra Pensoneau-Conway, department chair for Communication Studies, said he may have retired, he still came in regularly.

Pensoneau-Conway called Crow a celebrity. He hosted “Celtic Connections,” a radio show which reached approximately 13 million people around the country every week, according to WSIU’s announcement. 


“Celtic Connections” brought music into SIU in spaces were music was not commonly heard, Pensoneau-Conway said.

Crow was also a founding member of the local Irish band, the Dorians.

“He brought a lightness to conversations,” Pensoneau-Conway said. “[He] went above and beyond to bring students’ specific interests into the classroom.”

He sat on nearly 40 masters committees, over 100 dissertation committees, and directed over 30 masters and doctoral projects according to a release remembering Crow from the College of Liberal Arts.

Some of the awards Crow received include the Carbondale Community Arts Legacy Award and the Friends of WSIU 15-year service award. He was a Road Scholar and was inducted into the Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society in 2005.

The release said Crow touched many lives, loved teaching and showed enormous commitment to his student’s success. 

Pensoneau-Conway has received an outpouring of kind messages from previous students of Crow, which she will be sharing privately with his family. 


Dr. Jeffrey Punske, a linguistics professor, said Crow was the most kind faculty he’d ever had the pleasure to interact with.

Margaret Howard, Crow’s ex-wife and close friend, said Crow was a wonderful father and an excellent ex-husband.

“Excellent ex-husbands are hard to find, but super important for children,” Howard said. “He wasn’t flawless, no human is, but I honestly feel that Bryan Crow was a kind of a saint.”

He could have given courses on how to be a good co-parent after divorce, Howard said. She said he could have taught how to be kind and respectful, because it’s good for the kids.

There will be a service held at the Church of the Good Shepherd UCC in Carbondale at 11 a.m. on Oct. 5. All are welcome and every guest is encouraged to share stories about Crow. The event is a potluck and childcare will be available during the service.

Crow’s final “Celtic Connection” episode will air Oct. 12 at 7 p.m. and Oct. 13 at 6 p.m. on WSIU 91.9. There will also be an encore of his April 21, 2018 broadcast featuring Crow reminiscing about his first trip to Ireland and his favorite music; the encore will be broadcast on Dec. 26 and marks the 40th anniversary of that same trip.

Staff reporter McKenzie Johnston can be reached by email at [email protected] or on Twitter @TheMcKenzieJ.

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