No job was too big, nor was any job too small for Kevin Crowley, People In Need (PIN) Inc. of Delaware County’s executive director.
Crowley, 61, unexpectedly passed away Saturday, March 17, after almost 20 years of service to the community.
“He was compassionate as much as he was hardheaded,” said Carolyn Leasure, office manager, who has been with PIN for 26 years. “We butted heads a lot.”
Leasure said no one was to know about Crowley’s personal life and that she is probably the only person at PIN to have met his wife, Shirley.
“When I talked with his wife, and I talk with her extensively because of our friendship, she said the same thing. They probably never agreed on anything their entire marriage.”
Leasure said she will retire in June, and Crowley was worried about her leaving before the annual Holiday Clearing House Program, which provides gifts and food to families, seniors and homebound residents for the holidays.
“At Christmas time, he was very worried about me being retired because of the Holiday Clearing House Program,” she said. “I have a very large part of that and have always had a large part of it. I’ve always told him I have my side of the curtain and you have yours.”
Leasure said Crowley was kind and would do little things for the staff by bringing in coffee, Subway sandwiches, or cooking lobster in a large iron pot.
“(It was) his way of saying thank you, but he dare not say good job,” she said. “He didn’t do that.”
Lisa Clark, emergency services coordinator, has worked for PIN for almost three years.
“Kevin wasn’t just my boss. He was my mentor, my friend, and probably one of my favorite people,” she said. “Never a dull moment with Kevin. He’s so passionate. He pretended that he’s not, but he has such a huge heart.”
Clark said Crowley was a published poet.
“A lot of his poems were published in The Gazette when the paper ran ‘A Poet’s Corner,’” she said. “He was quite the eccentric man, and he’s going to be so missed by everybody in this organization.”
Jim Lewis, a PIN board member, said the Crowley was the heart and soul of PIN.
“He managed every aspect of the operation,” Lewis said. “If a client came in for emergency needs and one of our staff wasn’t here, Kevin would handle it personally, call the landlord or find that pair of shoes for the kid, or get a prescription covered. There was literally no job that was too small for Kevin.”
Lewis added everything Crowley did was historic.
“We have an eviction prevention program that I’m very proud of,” he said. “There are about 250 residential evictions a year in Delaware County. Kevin would negotiate with the landlord and keep that family in there for another cycle.”
Board member Dave Green said his favorite story about Crowley was about the campaign to pay off the mortgage. He said that Crowley agreed to grow his hair and only have it cut when the mortgage was repaid.
“Kevin had hair down to his shoulders until we repaid the mortgage,” he said. “When we repaid the mortgage, we had someone come along and cut his hair off at a party. That’s a story of Kevin of how far he would go on behalf of People In Need.”
Lula Mae Downerd has been with PIN for 33 years.
“Somebody had given us freezer,” she said. “After they had delivered it, we found some meat that they had left in there. It was spoiled, and Kevin had to clean that out. He never forgot that, and he never wanted to do that again because the meat was really a bad smell.”
“No job too big, she said. “No job too small.”
Randy Bournique said he’s been involved in the organization for about 25 years in one form or another. He said he was retired when Crowley asked him to come to work at PIN as the associate director.
“He’s why I’m here,” Bournique said. “I have a deep respect for what he does, for what PIN does, and how PIN does it. I know it’s because of Kevin’s leadership all of those years.”
On Friday, the board of directors asked Bournique to be Cowley’s successor as executive director of PIN.
Dayna Blackburn has worked for PIN for almost five years in the warehouse with Crowley.
“I worked with him every single day, all day long back there in the warehouse,” she said. “We laughed and had fun. He was always laughing and telling jokes.”
Blackburn said her best story about Crowley was that he calls himself Damian Smythe, Lord of Goth. It was his way of sheering her up, she said, because she has to have another brain surgery she doesn’t want to have.
“He bought a suit to wear with chains, skull cufflinks, skullcap and bandana,” she said. “So when I had the surgery, he could come in and show me he is Goth.”
“He didn’t have a Goth bone in his body, but he thought he did,” she said. “He was just being funny trying to cheer me up.”
Contact D. Anthony Botkin at 740-413-0902. Follow him on Twitter @dabotkin.