Robert T. Crotty – Obituary and photography from his funeral. Somerville, MA

 

My father, Robert Thomas Crotty, passed away on Sunday August 13, 2011 at the age of 73.  I wrestled with whether or not it was appropriate to photograph his funeral.  I finally decided to because I knew there were some friends and family members who couldn’t attend and might want to see images from the ceremony which took place on Saturday, August 19th at the Oak Grove Cemetary in Medford, MA.  Dad was buried in the Crotty family plot which my grandfather had purchased over 50 years ago (Dad is from Somerville, MA) and is with his father, mother, step-mother and brother.

You’ll notice in the photos that people are smiling and laughing at Dad’s funeral.  This was not done in poor taste.  My father clearly expressed in his Will that he would like a “non-religious service and a memorial celebration where friends and family can gather and tell outrageous stories about me that I will not be able to refute”.  So, we did.  Dad even had half a dozen University of New Hampshire college friends from 50 years ago attend and tell stories I’ve never heard.

You’ll also see a birthday cake in the photos because Dad’s birthday would have been the day after the funeral.  My uncle Walter and aunt Christine hosted a wonderful post-funeral celebration at their beautiful home on the water in Hull, MA….where we continued to tell stories and toast Dad with Jameson’s and Bailey’s.

Dad’s full obituary can be viewed here and is not to be confused with another Robert Crotty who also passed away this year.  This other Crotty was from St. Louis and died on my mother’s birthday, January 28th!

Please feel free to post your stories about Dad here in the Comment Box.  And if you’d like me to post photos of him, feel free to email me the images at: [email protected]

Dad’s college friend, Jim Cooke,  an actor from Quincy, MA shared this:

“Meeting Bob . . .

I recall my first meeting with Bob Crotty at the University of New Hampshire. We were Freshmen. My mother and stepfather drove me down in our 1947 Chrysler from Sunapee to Durham a distance of 75 miles. They set me up in my dorm room and left; it was September of 1954. A week earlier Hurricane Edna blew by. On the drive down we had seen clean-up from the storm. My assigned room was number 6 in “the Pit”of old East Hall; Edna had left mud on the floor. You stepped down a series of steps upon entering the building – a left over wooden barracks, they said, from World War I.

All Freshmen had to buy a “beanie” so I walked down to Brad McIntyre’s and bought one; it was dark blue with the numerals of our class year “58” in white. I still have it. Moths have had at it but, there it is!  The door of UNH would not close behind me for ten years when, at last, in 1964 I graduated with no honors. I would tell students at Emerson College the closest I ever came to tenure was as an undergraduate at UNH.

Beanie bought, I returned to the room and waited the arrival of my roommate. Soon, Bob arrived. I was  impressed by his size and the thickness of the lenses of his glasses. He was big! A football scholarship brought him to Durham. I had chosen the bed on the right; he took the one on the left and settled in. We each had our own bureau. I told him we had to get Freshman beanies and I had already got mine. Blinking behind his glasses, Bob seemed to resent this imposition. We walked down to Brad’s. We must have looked like Mutt and Jeff. Bob bought a beanie.

Robert T. Crotty came to UNH a devout Catholic boy -kneeling on his bed at night to repeat his prayers. This did not last long. UNH was notorious for challenging traditional faith.  He had a couple of books his priest had given him. One, I believe was titled “Ejaculations of Faith” consisting of short prayers you could have at hand to deal with any emergency.

I was reclusive my Freshman year; first I attended classes then cut most of them. I should never have been in college! If ever anyone was not ready for college – I was that one.

Bob was ready and not reclusive. In addition to football practice he had an active social life, he wrote for “The New Hampshire” and eagerly attended classes. He had a program on the school radio station – “Musical Night Train” – the opening theme was Les Elgart’s  “Night Train” – a great song with a rowdy trombone lead in. It’s on YouTube. Go listen. He auditioned and was cast in the fall play – “Major Barbara” by George Bernard Shaw. I think he was cast as Barbara’s brother. However, at the first rehearsal “Batch” –   Dr. Joseph Batchelder, a man we would both come to know, suggested he come back when he was not so busy. Bob’s schedule was so full he couldn’t make a single rehearsal!

My first illegal glass of beer in a bar was with Bob and  a friend from Sunapee, Jock Larry – long gone now to his reward. We went to Bucky’s in Dover which later was known as Martha’s. I recall it was crowded and hot. Bucky was then alive. A glass of beer cost a dime.

In 1956 I was in the Army and so was Bob. I recall a training session for firing rifle grenades and bazookas when a company marched by. Bringing up the rear, as always, were several limping soldiers. One looked a great deal like Bob Crotty. Today, I’m certain it was. We later determined we were at Fort Dix at the same time.

The surgery that precipitated Bob’s stroke was on the knee he injured at football practice at UNH well over half a century ago in 1954. On one crutch, I see him hopping into our room in the Pit in old East Hall. “Screwed up my knee. Coach Boston told the Varsity to really hit us; to stop playing patty-cake.”

*************

September 2011 Bob Crotty, in Memorium by Lee Cooke Childs

Six years out and I’m my own person. At three years out I had the realization I had better get busy and make whatever life I had left mean something more than being a grieving widow.

 I now have spontaneous memories, not only of childhood (which never left me except in the most demanding times of caring for triplets born eight weeks prematurely) but also of the trauma years around Trevor’s death, preceding the triplets, and our divorce, remarriage and step-family building which began when the triplets were in grammar school. In terms of quiet contemplation I was down so long it looked like up to me.

I can also access memories of the adult years before Maury’s illness loomed into urgency and eclipsed the past, but not quite so easily.

 An email popped up: Bob Crotty had died after tens of debility in the Manchester VA hospital.

His will read, “Invite people to my funeral to tell outrageous stories about me which I will be unable to refute.” Who could resist such a challenge?  I had known Bob in our college years and had last seen him at his 70th birthday party which his son, Liam, had organized at the hospital.

 Bob and Jim Cooke were freshmen roommates in East Hall at UNH next to the Commons dining room.  East and West Halls had been erected as temporary housing for returning WWII vets and with the Korean War winding down Bob and Jim both entered college on the G.I. Bill.  There were stories connected to Bob of recently delivered bottles of milk disappearing with dawn’s early light from the local restaurant doorstep and, apparently, a ham in a fraternity fridge across the street from East Hall, something about an open rear window in the kitchen.

 One summer Bob and Mary Jane ( by then most of us were married) lived in the bedroom next to ours in the big house on West Street where most of the Keene Summer Theatre Company cohabitated three summers between academic years. Bob was then in charge of publicity/public relations for the company. I was playing Josie Hogan in “Moon For  the Misbegotten”, years before Coleen Dewhurst. Jim was playing the Jason Robards (Eugene O’Neill biographical) part and John Whittaker was playing Harder, the pig farmer down the road. Loren Morrill had the part of his son and also was in charge of creating the sets for that show. He had been up all night before the opening. He entered to John and I from stage left, wide-eyed with his arms spread out in supplication and with the barest nod indicated that he couldn’t remember a single line.  John stroked his chin and ordered him off the stage. We began to improvise and jumped into the next act. Lines are very similar and cadenced in O’Neill. We finally found our way back to the proper scene.

I sought Bob in the wings. “Bob”, I said, “we have to explain to the audience. We have to apologize.”

“We don’t say a word,” he said, “They will never know the difference.”

He was right and we got rave reviews.

 Bob’s college debut in acting was as Judge Brack in “Hedda Gabler” at UNH. He came tipsy to a rehearsal and his line came out “I shot him with a pickle” (instead of pistol). After a round of poorly contained giggles he was told to go home (and come back sober).

 Mary Jane’s debut was as Gay Wellington** in “You Can’t Take It With You” in Keene. She descended the stairs during the FBI raid singing the limerick, “There was a young lady from Wheeling, Who had a remarkable feeling, She laid on her back and opened her crack And pissed all over the ceiling.”

Bob’s part for that show** was Boris Kolenkhov,  Russian ballet master whose lines required a singing rendition of “Goody,Goody”–“So you met someone who set you back on your heels? Goody Goody”…

 One academic year Jim and I lived in a small house that had a wood stove for heat and cooking. It was on a local pig farm about 2-3 miles from campus in the next town, Lee, NH. The house was up a rather steep hill that became treacherous to navigate in the snow and ice. We had a big snow just before I went into labor with Sydney, our first. Jim had visions of me slipping at the top of the drive and rolling down to the highway accumulating around the big belly a giant snowball with only extremities protruding. He got me to the hospital and since it was going to take some time he called Bob to join him. Who else would you call but your old roomie? Dr.MacGregor medicated me and I fell asleep so there was longer to wait. It took seventeen hours in all. What else to do but throw back “a few”? Bob fell asleep on our cut velvet couch with our marmalade tomcat ensconced on his head–probably the warmest place available on a long dark night. Bob, upon wakening with a bit of a hangover, promptly decried, “I had the weirdest dream there were lions on my head!”

 This was far from the most dramatic delivery in our college set of Korean war vets and their wives. Tooty Riley who lived in Madbury, an adjacent town, was being rushed to the Exeter Hospital by Linc Fenn, a roomer of theirs and fellow student of Peter Riley, Tooty’s husband.

She breached well before Exeter and after the delivery Linc was never able to get the smell of the afterbirth out of the back seat and had to sell the car.

**“You Can’t Take It With You”

Characters

 Bob played:

Boris Kolenkhov (83 lines) Preferred age: 30 and up

A Russian who escaped to America shortly before the Russian Revolution. He is very concerned with world politics, and the deterioration of Russia. He is the ballet instructor -of Essie, aware that she is untalented at dancing, but knows that she enjoys dancing so he keeps working with her. He likes the Greeks and the Romans, questions society, and is interested in world affairs. He is opinionated and often loudly declares that something “stinks”! This actor can be either very large and boisterous, or small and flamboyant. Will need to be able to support Essie physically, and keep a straight face.

 Mary Jane played:

Gay Wellington (9 lines) Preferred age: 25 and up

An actress whom Mrs. Sycamore meets on a bus and invites home to read one of her plays. She is an alcoholic, gets very drunk and passes out shortly after arriving at the Sycamore’s home. A very small role, but onstage for several scenes. The actress mustn’t be afraid to be physically carried by another actor, and can act “passed out”, in hilarious positions, without breaking character.

 

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