Barrie Cropper will be remembered by the university community for his generosity and commitment to the creative writing program. He also served on USD’s board of trustees from 2009-2011 and was involved with the Academic Affairs and Finance Committees. Mr. Cropper passed away peacefully on March 9 after a battle with mesothelioma. Dorothy Cropper, his wife of 46 years, was at his side.
The couple founded USD’s Lindsay Joanne Cropper Center for Creative Writing and the Cropper Writers Series in honor of their daughter, who passed away in 2000. Lindsay Joanne ‘98 was a beloved English student and an aspiring creative writer.
“Reading and writing were Lindsay's passions,” Professor Irene Williams said. “She was so open-minded, curious, intelligent and imaginative.”
Following the death of their only child, the Croppers decided to give something substantial to the English Department, which had cultivated Lindsay’s love for the written word. Professor Fred Robinson, former English Chair, first met Barrie at a meeting to discuss the establishment of the Center for Creative Writing.
“It was clear, though unspoken, that giving back to the Department Lindsay had enjoyed was a means for the Croppers to focus on something into which their grief could be activated and transcended,” Robinson said.
“Barrie told me that they had not understood their daughter’s choice of major, even as they supported it. Creative writing in particular and the literary arts in general were a discovery for them that in a sense brought their daughter to life, if such a thing can be said”
According to Sr. Mary Hotz, Chair of the Department of English, the momentum generated by the Writers Series led to the hiring of Professors Jericho Brown and Halina Duraj. The addition of these faculty allowed for the development of a creative writing emphasis within the English major.
“The Cropper gift, then, its legacy, offers students the opportunity to know themselves as writers and to hone their craft with fine faculty, opportunities Lindsay cherished during her time at USD,” Hotz said.
The Writing Center was designed to “foster the appreciation and practice of creative writing at the University of San Diego by hosting an annual Writers Series, sponsoring writing workshops, promoting the development of writing courses, and granting awards for creative writing.” Brown, an award-winning poet, is director of the center.
“What I loved most about Barrie is that he didn't think unless he could think big and that he expected the same from me,” Brown said. “Today, the Cropper Center brings the best living writers to San Diego and works to make our students the best future writers of this nation.”
Mr. Cropper and his family moved to San Diego from England in 1985. He held a degree in mechanical engineering and enjoyed a long career in international marketing and business development. He was the youngest vice president of the Allen-Bradley Company before being appointed CEO of one of the corporation's British subsidiaries.
He later joined Cambridge Electronic Industries and was appointed CEO of one of the corporation's subsidiaries in England. He moved to San Diego to revive one of the company's ailing ventures.
Mr. Cropper went on to manage a number of California companies, using his experience to transform struggling businesses into successful ones. He took a special interest in entrepreneurship and worked with many entrepreneurs in the US and abroad as they founded their own companies.
Mr. Cropper was a successful businessman and an entrepreneurial visionary, but to those who knew him well, his greatest role was that of a devoted husband and father.
“One day, in the late afternoon when the light dims in Founders Hall, I met Mr. Cropper leaving the Cropper Room, a place established to honour his daughter and to inspire students to love writing,” Hotz shared. “He said, simply, that he was taking time to visit Lindsay. She was never far from his heart, and both Barrie and Dorothy opened their hearts to students at USD by establishing the Lindsay Joanne Cropper Center for Creative Writing.”
- Anne Slagill '11