David Crowley’s long and passionate love affair with life began 97 years ago on January 28, 1923 at 58 Trenton Street in Lawrence on a cold and clear day full of hope and promise. It came to a quiet close on Monday morning, April 13th, at the Nevins Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Methuen. It was a life well lived.
David was the youngest of three children born to Nora (Walsh) and John (Jack) Crowley, hardworking immigrants from County Cork Ireland, who left a difficult life behind to begin anew in America finding work and the promise of a new beginning for themselves and their future children in the great textile mills that lined the banks of the Merrimack River.
The Crowley’s were a small but close-knit family. As the youngest, David was protected and supported by his older siblings – brother John, and sister Katherine (Andrews), both of whom pre-deceased him.
With his blue eyes and impish smile David was somewhat of a rascal as a youngster. By his own admission he was often mischievous, but never a troublemaker.
As a young boy, Lawrence was his playground. In winters he loved to skate on the nearby Playstead, which was flooded each winter for public skating. He never forgot the kindness of his neighbor, Mrs. Markey, who let him borrow a pair of skates from one of her many sons because his parents could not afford to buy him a pair of his own.
In summers he loved watching the Lawrence Millionaires semi-pro baseball team play. David was a big baseball fan and a former Red Sox season ticket holder. He often took the train to Boston to see the Sox play but was also known to take an occasional side-trip to Boston’s somewhat scandalous Scolley Square to take-in the performances at the Old Howard, unbeknownst to his strict Irish-Catholic mother.
David graduated in 1941 from Lawrence High School. When the war broke out several months later, he tried multiple times to enlist but a punctured ear drum at birth kept him from service. This was perhaps the first of many obstacles David encountered in his long and wonderful life and which he overcame with grace, inner strength, and joy.
Throughout his life, David found joy in his work. To him, any job was a noble job. As the son of immigrants, he began working at an early age helping to support his parents and siblings in a post-Depression world where opportunities were hard to come by.
One of his first jobs was helping his family’s Hampshire Street landlord, Mike Casey, deliver ice or coal, depending on the season, to Mr. Casey’s small, but loyal roster of Merrimack Valley customers. Barely a teenager at the time, David relished telling the story of how Mr. Casey taught him to drive a truck by letting him get behind the wheel once they hit the back roads of Salem, NH, which was just a sparsely populated farming community at the time. The best part of the story, according to David, was that Mr. Casey soon arranged for him to secure his driver’s license, much to his older brother John’s chagrin, since John was several years older than David and had yet to obtain his own driver’s license.
Eventually David found work in the mills like many generations of Lawrence residents before and after. It was steady work for a time but as the mills went South in search of cheap labor David sought work wherever he could. For a time, he dug graves at St. Mary’s Cemetery in Lawrence where his father, Jack, was superintendent. He later worked for the Commonwealth’s Dept. of Public Works before being hired as a curbsetter/laborer for the City of Lawrence Street Department. This was a job he loved. From 1960 to his retirement in 1989, David paved or plowed virtually every street in the city. He especially loved the snow. For years he was called out in the middle of the night to plow and was often assigned some of the steepest streets on Prospect and Tower Hills which others were reluctant to clear.
David also loved being married. So much so, he did it three times. He met his first wife, Kathleen (Kat) McAuliffe, one day as she was making her way home from her job at the Gas Company in downtown Lawrence. They married in 1949 and had one son, David F. Jr., of Boston.
After Kathleen passed in 1961, David was introduced by mutual friends to M. Patricia (Pat) O’Brien. They married in the Fall of 1963, but their marriage was tragically brief ending with her sudden passing in 1966.
While David never drank or smoked, he loved a good party and he especially loved to dance. David met his third wife, Anne Duggan Smith, one Friday night at the Commodore Ballroom in Lowell. They married in 1970 and he moved to Dracut from his beloved Lawrence, where his family expanded to include a stepson, Michael Smith, and eventually a grandson, Jared, and granddaughter, Alison MacDonald (Patrick), all of Northbridge.
Before her passing in 2002 David and Anne traveled extensively throughout the North America, Hawaii, and Europe. Fond memories included a trip to Disney World with their young grandchildren, a Grand Tour of Italy with their sons, and several trips to Ireland visiting relatives and touring the country, especially It’s Wild Atlantic Way.
Locally, David and Anne loved taking trips with the Rainbow Club of Methuen and spent many a New Year’s Eve dancing the night away with good friends on a lively Rainbow Club trip somewhere in New England.
But in the end, what David loved best was a good craic with a friend or stranger shared over a hot cup of black coffee. He had the Irish gift of gab and it was this simple pleasure that David thoroughly enjoyed till his very last days.
In addition to the Rainbow Club and the Lawrence Lodge of Elks, David was also a 4th Degree Knight of Columbus and a long-time member of the Men’s Club of the former St. Mary of the Assumption Parish in Collinsville, MA.
Joining his sons and grandchildren in their loss, David also leaves several loving nieces and nephews.
While David was not tested for Covid-19, the family believes his rapid decline and related circumstances were due to the virus and expresses their deep condolences to other families of nursing home patients who have lost a loved one in recent weeks due to this terrible disease.
At the same time, the family would also like to acknowledge and thank the staff – nurses, rehabilitation specialists, activity aides, and especially the personal care aides at Nevins Nursing and Rehabilitation in Methuen who lovingly cared for and supported David since 2013.
The family also would like to thank David’s life-long medical support team – Dr. Eduardo D. Haddad, MD, Dr. A. David Simkin, MD, and Dr. Lakshmi Shanmugham, MD who delivered excellent comfort, care, and advice enabling David to live a long, full, and happy life.
Finally, it would give David a smile to know that a contribution in his name has been made to either one of these fine organizations: Lazarus House (lazarushouse.org/donate) or Nevins Nursing & Rehabilitation (nevinsfamily.org).
Due to MA state regulations during the COVID-19 pandemic, a private graveside service took place at St. Mary Immaculate Conception Cemetery in Lawrence. Arrangements by the Mahoney Funeral Home, 187 Nesmith Street, Lowell, MA 978-452-6361.