Jewel Biedenharn Crosswell (“Julie”) died at home in Houston, Texas on Thursday, the 1st of October 2020, just a couple weeks shy of her 68th birthday. She was surrounded by her loving husband of 37 years, Markley Crosswell, and her three children, Bettina, Will, and Jewel. Born in San Antonio on the 16th of October 1952, to Betty Osborn Biedenharn and Albert Milton Biedenharn Jr., Julie attended St. Mary’s Hall and graduated from Alamo Heights High School. She moved to New York to attend Finch College before graduating from the University of Texas in 1974 where she was a member of Pi Beta Phi. Julie was a partner at Osborn Heirs Company, her family business, and she was part of a proud family heritage of Coca-Cola bottlers throughout the South and Southwest.
Like her beloved mother, Betty, Julie believed firmly that it was her duty to share whatever gifts were bestowed upon her and made it her life’s purpose to give back to the community. She served on countless boards including M.D. Anderson’s Board of Visitors, University of Texas Fine Arts Advisory Council, The Shepherd Society – Rice University Music School Governing Council, The University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work Dean’s Advisory Council, Depression, Bipolar Support Alliance, Mental Health of Harris County, University of Texas Health Science Center, University of Texas College of Social Work Advisory Council, Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center Advisory Council, Governor’s Commission for Women, Texas Conference for Women Advisory Council, St. Mary’s Hall School, The Alley Theatre, and The Houston Ballet. She cherished all of these organizations, especially Communities in Schools, where she was a Board Member for over 20 years.
Julie’s desire to positively impact her community and her insatiable love of learning led her to earn a Master’s Degree in Social Work from the University of Houston at the age of 50. After becoming a Licensed Master Social Worker, Julie worked at multiple HISD schools supporting at-risk youth. Julie was a faithful member of First Presbyterian Church in Houston and volunteered regularly with Mainstreet Ministries counseling individuals experiencing homelessness. Over the last decade, Julie became a Guardian Ad Litem through Child Advocates, where she provided advocacy and support to children in foster care.
Julie was the person that everyone wanted to be around. She was warm, hilarious, authentic, and insatiably curious. She was the friend that you called to share your highest highs and your lowest lows. She possessed boundless energy, empathy and joy for everyone around her. And there was maybe no one on the whole planet who craved people more than Julie. The definition of an extrovert, Julie never said no to a dinner with friends, a trip, a party, or anything that involved her family and friends. The Queen of Fiesta for life, Julie adored to have fun and would say “I can’t help it! I love people!” Her personality was as colorful as her clothes – vibrant, bold, and never too serious.
There are some people, and Julie was one of them, who are so large that they fill spaces in our lives even when they are gone. We are overwhelmingly heartbroken and will forever have a hole in our hearts, but we rest assured knowing that she is home in the presence of Jesus. Julie never stopped deepening her faith, especially in the face of her cancer diagnosis, clinging to God’s promises when He says, “I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our LORD” (Romans 8:38-39). We rejoice in knowing that she is wrapped up in the everlasting arms of Christ and her fiercely loving presence remains with us always.
Julie was preceded in death by her parents, Albert M. Biedenharn, Jr. and Betty Osborn Biedenharn; and her brother, Charles Osborn Biedenharn. She is survived and immensely loved by her husband of 37 years, Markley Crosswell; her daughter Bettina and husband Brian; her son Will and wife Mackenzie; her daughter Jewel and husband Luke; her grandchildren India and Willa; her brothers, Albert Biedenharn and wife Kathy; Larry Biedenharn and wife Carolyn; Step-children: Katherine Crosswell; Mark Crosswell and wife Liz; Victor Crosswell and wife Flora; Lissie Crosswell and husband Wayne; Peter Crosswell and wife Holly; 14 step-grandchildren; and six nieces and nephews.
Friends are cordially invited to a visitation with the family from five o’clock this afternoon until seven o’clock this evening Sunday, the 4th of October, at Geo. H. Lewis & Sons, 1010 Bering Drive in Houston.
The family will gather for a private interment at a later date at Glenwood Cemetery in Houston
In lieu of customary remembrances, memorial contributions may be directed toward Communities in Schools, Development Department, 1235 North Loop West., Ste. 300, Houston, TX 77008; First Presbyterian Church, 5300 Main St., Houston, TX 77004; MD Anderson Cancer Center, Development Department, PO Box 4486, Houston, TX 77210.