Crosby’s generous spirit

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, May 30, 2000

will be sorely missed


Staff Writer

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

May 29, 2000 10 PM

Friends and family are celebrating the life of a generous woman.

Claudia Crosby died at her residence Monday, leaving behind a legacy of giving to the Troy community.

Alex Whaley and his wife, Jane, have spent the past years caring for the "fun-loving" woman who lived a "rich, full life."

After her health deteriorated, responsibility for Crosby’s care fell on her second cousin and her husband, who cherished having this "remarkable" woman in their lives.

"You really can’t mourn her death," Alex Whaley said, adding the 94-year-old’s health had rapidly failed the past few months.

What he will treasure is the memory of her smile the day before she died.

Troy was home for Crosby until she was 12 years old when she, her sister and mother moved to Washington, D.C. After she graduated from college, she taught school for seven years before becoming a wife and homemaker.

Several years ago, Crosby returned to Troy for a visit, but never left. During that trip, she had to be admitted to the hospital with pneumonia and suffered a heart attack while hospitalized.

It was through her personal losses that Crosby was able to give to others. After the deaths of her mother, husband of 51 years, sister and brother-in-law, Crosby found herself rather wealthy.

In her own words, her wants were "fairly few," so she decided to follow a dream of her mother’s and help educate those who had no means to further their education.

She gave money to Troy State University for scholarships, but that money was nothing compared to what she received from giving it.

"Seeing the response of these students has been so gratifying," Crosby said during an interview last year. "They are so appreciative. It makes me want to do more."

So she did. In December 1998, she gave $1.3 million to Troy State for the renovation of the theater in Smith Hall that now bears her name and for scholarships to students pursuing degrees in the fine arts.

Her gifts to TSU’s theater department stemmed from her love of the theater. She even became a part of an amateur theater group and later supported the theater guild in the nation’s capital.

Dr. Jack Hawkins, Jr., Chancellor of the Troy State University System, said Crosby’s concern for Troy State University and its students was evidenced by her generosity.

"Mrs. Crosby gave love and was loved by all in return," Hawkins said. "Just being in her presence for a few moments, one could not help but be uplifted by her loving spirit, joyful attitude and wonderful sense of humor.

"Mrs. Crosby loved young people, and the scholarships she provided will make a difference in the lives of generations of Trojans to come. She was also pleased that the Crosby Theater has become a centerpiece for the performing arts not only for Troy State University, but for the entire Troy and Pike County communities as well."

In addition to the money she donated to Troy State, Crosby gave to the Wilmer Institute

in Baltimore, Md. where her sister was treated for macular degeneration. That same disease of the eyes stole sight from Crosby and she valued the research done in Baltimore and the benefits the Helen Keller Institute in Alabama has given those without sight.

Perhaps Crosby best described her financial gifts when she said, "It’s not the things that money can buy that bring me pleasure, it’s the things that the money can do for others."

Whaley said Crosby received the most enjoyment from helping others. She helped purchase textbooks and other supplies for those who couldn’t afford them.

In the past few weeks, Crosby had told her sitters and others that her time was coming. But, she never told the Whaleys until the end and even at that time she apologized for being a burden.

"Even in her darkest hour she was thinking of someone else," Whaley said.

He said someone recently told him a story about how the trees chosen for ship masts were called kingers and her friends up north called Crosby a kinger ­ a fitting tribute to a woman who weathered many storms without breaking.

Graveside services will be at 2 p.m. today at Springhill Cemetery in Springhill with the Rev. Steve Rascoe officiating. No visitation will be held.