SHERFY Josephine Crouch Sherfy Josephine Crouch Sherfy, a once long-time resident of the Washington area, passed away peacefully at her home in Austin, Texas on November 21, 2021, at the age of 98. A member of what some call “The Greatest Generation,” she experienced a terrible economic depression, a world war, and monumental social and historical changes. These events would influence her lifelong commitment to family, education, equality and her efforts to help others. Josephine leaves behind her sons, daughters-in-law, grandsons, great grandsons, nieces, and a fascinating mix of friends who she loved and admired. Edyth Josephine Crouch was born in Taylor, Texas on December 18, 1922, to Irene Crouch (née Krauskopf) and Frederick E. Crouch. The family moved to Austin shortly after she was born. Josephine had three brothers; Robert, Frederick, and Britain. Josephine attended Austin High School and graduated from the University of Texas in 1945 earning a Bachelor of Arts degree. Growing up in Texas in the 1920s and 30s, Josephine was confronted with the racial inequalities of the time. As a young woman returning to the University after voting for the first time, she was angered when seeing African Americans confined to the rear of the bus when many were bravely serving overseas in the military during World War II. In 1944, Josephine marched with 8,000 other students protesting the firing of the UT President because he refused to dismiss faculty members whom the UT Board of Regents believed to be promoting “liberal views.” These experiences would guide her conscience and settle her views concerning racial discrimination and education for the rest of her life. Josephine would later complete literature study programs in Leeds and York England, as well as advanced arts, history, and literature courses in Washington and Austin, Texas. Her quest for experiences would have her visit many foreign countries; visiting Turkey was her favorite trip. Josephine moved to Washington DC in 1945 to work for Texas Congressman Lyndon Johnson and then briefly for a Federal agency dealing with alien property seized during WWII. Josephine declined an overseas post with the State Department, a career she had long coveted, and married Laurence P Sherfy; a Washington resident, attorney, and Naval Officer who would become a distinguished lobbyist for the mining industry regarding taxation. Josephine would become a true Washingtonian; marrying in May 1947, settling in Bethesda Maryland, raising three sons, enjoying the 1950s & 60s social life of the city, and assisting Lyndon and Ladybird Johnson during the Presidential transition after the assassination of President Kennedy. Josephine, however, would also play an important role in junior tennis, the establishment of professional tennis tournaments in Washington DC, the birth of the women’s circuit, and the creation of the first major senior men’s circuit. From 1950 to 1970, Josephine was busy raising three sons and volunteering to help the cause of junior tennis in the Washington area. She shuttled kids to tournaments, club matches, and was part of a small group that created an annual junior tennis event hosted by the Edgemoor Club in Bethesda, Maryland where she would maintain a membership for 74 years. In 1966, she drove some junior tennis players to the Middle Atlantic Tennis Championships in Richmond, Virginia only to have them withdraw when a young African American player was not allowed on the tennis courts at the all-White country club. She encouraged her sons to teach tennis as volunteers as part of the Washington Area Tennis Patrons Foundation program for inner city youth. As her sons moved on to college and careers, Josephine would help shape the development of professional tennis in the Washington area. Josephine’s role began with the inaugural event of the men’s Washington Star International in 1969; a tournament benefiting junior tennis and in particular inner city youth. She was part of the birth of the women’s professional circuit with the 1972 Virginia Slims Championships of Washington. Her responsibilities quickly grew from managing volunteer ball boys and ushers to professional positions in tournament supervision. She developed a special talent for securing financial support in the form of sponsorships. This was an exciting time for Josephine and she would develop some of her closest friendships over the following years. Following the death of her husband in 1978, Josephine immersed herself in a full-time career in the sports management industry. By 1980, she would be juggling multiple annual events; the Washington Star, the Volvo Classic, and the Colgate Series. Eventually, she accepted a position with ProServ, Inc. as part of a team that helped run professional tennis events across the country. A yearly event in Stowe, Vermont was one of her favorite tournaments and she would always invite her family there to enjoy a vacation during her stay. Josephine left Proserv as assistant vice-president, began working at Net Assets, and was instrumental in the creation of the first major senior men’s circuit in 1993 featuring Jimmy Connors and Bjorn Borg. During her career, Josephine would work alongside John Harris, Donald Dell, and Ray Benton; all pioneers in establishing professional tennis tournaments in the Washington area. Josephine retired from her career in tennis and sports management and in 2002, after 57 years in the Washington area, moved back to Austin to be near two of her sons. She was an unyielding advocate for the rehabilitation and life-long care of one Texas son who suffered a tragic accident while training for competitive bike races. Josephine reconnected with old friends she made while attending Austin High, The University of Texas, and while working for Lyndon and Ladybird Johnson. She volunteered at her church community assistance program and became a docent at the University of Texas Harry Ransom Center. Josephine was a fiercely political woman who loved kitty-cats, formal gardens, high-tea with friends, red wine, the evening network news, Leonard Cohen and the Bee Gees, road trips with her sons and daughters-in-law, Pre-Raphaelite art and literature, day lilies, Novak Djokovic tennis matches, the theater, going to movies, picnics, hotdogs with mustard, and wearing her signature pith helmet. Josephine is preceded in death by her parents Frederick and Irene Crouch, her husband Laurence Polkinhorn Sherfy, and her brothers Robert, Britain, and Frederick Crouch. She is survived by her three sons, Laurence Randolph Sherfy, Frederick Crouch Sherfy, Joseph Polkinhorn Sherfy and daughters-in-law Roberta Sherfy and Devora Chapman Sherfy. She is also survived by her grandchildren; Justin Randolph Sherfy and Keenan Matthew Sherfy, and great grandchildren; William, Patrick, Ethan, Grant, and Dean. Josephine also leaves behind nieces Jennifer Crouch Ellis, Alyson Crouch Hardin, Kimberly Crouch, Janelle Straszheim, Kate Rogers, Elizabeth Sherfy, and many friends who enriched her life, shared happiness and sorrows, influenced her, admired her, and helped this remarkable woman show us all how one might live a life of curiosity, generosity, responsibility, and consequence. Josephine’s ashes will be interred next to her husband’s at St Luke’s Episcopal Church in Bethesda, Maryland at a future date not yet determined. Josephine was a committed advocate for those less fortunate. To donate to organizations Josephine supported financially and through volunteer efforts, we suggest two places: Bethesda Cares in Bethesda, Maryland; at bethesdacares.org and All Saints’ Episcopal Church – Loaves & Fishes Program; at www.allsaints-austin.org/Josephine”>www.allsaints-austin.org/Josephine’s ashes will be interred next to her husband’s at St Luke’s Episcopal Church in Bethesda, Maryland at a future date not yet determined. Josephine was a committed advocate for those less fortunate. To donate to organizations Josephine supported financially and through volunteer efforts, we suggest two places: Bethesda Cares in Bethesda, Maryland; at bethesdacares.org and All Saints’ Episcopal Church – Loaves & Fishes Program; at www.allsaints-austin.org/
Published by The Washington Post on Dec. 12, 2021.
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