Candace Kromer, librarian for 44 years, passes away at 87

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Candace Kromer and her grandson Carey Crooke at the Painted Desert in Arizona. Photo courtesy of Victoria Crooke

Candace Kromer, an evening and weekend supervisor at Occidental’s Mary Norton Clapp Library for 44 years, passed away in her Pasadena home Jan. 28 at 87 years old. An avid traveler, Kromer visited more than 100 countries. She worked for the Food and Drug Administration, 9th District Circuit Court and as a high school registrar while working weekends and nights at Occidental. Kromer is survived by her daughter, Victoria Crooke, and her two grandsons Carey, 28, and Curtis, 24.

“I admired her adventurous spirit, always searching for new travel destinations to explore, trying new restaurants, particularly with ethnic dishes, wearing bright and colorful clothing to stand out in a crowd and meeting and speaking with individuals she not only knew but those she would meet during her travels,” Crooke said. “She was definitely not shy and was always excited to extend a conversation for as long as possible and loved sharing her travel experiences.”

Kromer was born June 29, 1932, in Kansas City, Mo., to Geraldine Garrett and Walter Bryan Carey, after whom Crooke’s first son was named. Kromer attended Kansas State University for two and a half years. At a sorority dance, she met her future husband, Elvin F. Kromer, who was in the army and stationed nearby. They married April 11, 1953, in Fort Riley, Kan., and moved to Germany, where Elvin was stationed. While in Germany, Kromer and her husband had their only child, Victoria Crooke, who was born Aug. 6, 1955, in Munich. After returning from Germany, the couple moved around the U.S., and lived in Colorado, Wisconsin, Michigan and Indiana. Kromer lived in Fort Ville, Ind., when Elvin was deployed to serve in the Vietnam War in 1962.

According to Crooke, the couple divorced in 1962, and shortly thereafter, Kromer moved to Pasadena, where she resided for the rest of her life. Before beginning work at Occidental in 1976, Kromer worked for a telephone company and volunteered for the Campfire Girls, a scouting organization for young women. Kromer began working at John Muir High School in Pasadena as a registrar and was still working there when she started at Occidental.

Head of Collections Services John de la Fontaine has worked in the library for 31 years. He said he remembers Kromer’s driven and focused attitude toward getting things done. He also recalls helping her process the photos she had taken on her travels and spending time with her and library staff during the holidays.

“There was a time for a number of years when she would host a gathering at her own [place],” de la Fontaine said. “At the holiday season, [we would] go over to her home and we could just all tell stories and gather as a library staff. I remember that very fondly.”

According to Senior Evening and Weekend Supervisor Richard Shive, who has worked at the library for 46 years and was a close friend of Kromer, the two had different attitudes regarding student worker time sheets.

“She had the student welfare in mind,” Shive said. “If I were doing it, and the student didn’t do it correctly, they wouldn’t get paid these two weeks until they did it correctly.”

According to de la Fontaine, Kromer’s favorite part of working in the library was caring for the students, and she would ensure that student workers filled out their time sheets properly. Habiba Hopson (senior), a student employee at the circulation desk in the library since her sophomore year, said she will miss Kromer’s presence and her persistence in reminding students to submit their time sheets.

“Getting those emails and making sure that she wants us to get paid, I’ve always really appreciated. It was a pleasure working with her,” Hopson said. “Candace, I think, from day one, very much reminded me of my grandmother. Both just in the way that she loved to be around young people, but also the amount of energy that she had.”

Kromer was known as a world traveler. According to Resources Acquisition Specialist Cristina Sevilla-Pappas, Kromer was a world-class explorer, and the two would discuss their travels and memories on Fridays over a cup of tea when their shifts at the library overlapped.

Serials Data and Materials Specialist Theresa Clock, who has worked in the library for 25 years, said she most enjoyed hearing of Kromer’s travels and seeing photos she had taken.

“She always reminded me of my favorite aunt,” Clock said. “She was just a charming person to be around and just energetic. I would say that she had that enthusiasm for life that never went away.”

Crooke currently works as a financial analyst for the Georgetown University Medical Center in Washington, D.C. and has been a flight attendant for for 41 years, initially receiving the position a year out of college. According to Crooke, Kromer had many travel opportunities due to benefits given to airline employees’ family members. Crooke said her mother influenced her to travel after she sent her to Japan for a summer when she was in high school, and that her two sons have visited all 50 states and every state capital.

According to Secretary of the College Marsha Schnirring, Kromer’s favorite destination was Machu Picchu, the ancient Incan city in Peru.

“I think the consolation is that she had a full, I mean really full life,” Schnirring said. “She traveled to over 100 countries. She was really proud of that. And she didn’t just take the package tour things, she planned it, went to places where people don’t usually get to go. So when something like that happens, that’s how you hope that a person’s life will conclude: that they got to do the things they wanted to do in their life.”