Thomas J. Crozier, Jr. passed away peacefully at home on September 14, 2021, at the age of 85. He was born on February 20, 1936, in Bellaire, OH. His career as the Claim Manager for North and South Carolina with Aetna Life and Casualty Company led him and his wife of 62 years, Carolyn, to Charlotte in 1980.
Tom is survived by his wife, Carolyn; their son Thomas J. Crozier, III (Reni); their daughter Kendyl Coelho (Frank); 4 grandchildren, Jordyn Crozier Putz (Zachery), Jamie Lynn Crozier, Nicholas James Coelho, Julia Rose Coelho; and one great-granddaughter, Mia Nicole Putz.
Tom Crozier is loved by so many. The following is a compilation of remembrances from a number of his friends.
Tom Crozier was always a positive force for good. All who knew Tom count their blessings to have been included as his friends. He was ever the gentleman, always with a quick sense of humor, always alert to what was going on politically in community and nation. He was never judgmental - never once bad-mouthed anyone. Never. He was overflowing with love and compassion. And in these last several difficult years, he never once said "woe is me."
But Tom was far more than just a “good person.” He led by example and he had a methodology for pulling you in and it worked! Tom possessed an uncanny but practiced ability to recruit as he went.
Every Monday morning, for 20 + years, Tom went to the Urban Ministry Center (now “Roof Above”) to serve in what was called the "counseling" ministry. He would always arrive early, grab a cup of coffee, have something witty to say, and then he would be present with our neighbors experiencing homelessness, listening and connecting with resources. Tom’s faithfulness was heroic.
Tom also organized the Emergency Winter Shelter volunteers and made it such a joy to assist at the shelter - he was so caring and friendly and made everyone feel that all were Blessed to be there.
Tom was one of the original Church ministry leaders at Saint Peter Catholic who supported the Urban Ministry "Room in the Inn” efforts to address the winter needs of our homeless neighbors. Tom made the original presentation to the parish for the need to support the homeless as a Christian goal. He pulled many members of the parish into the ministry and organized teams to support the need. His legacy continues within the parish with the 200+ members of St Peter "Room in the Inn” ministry.
Tom’s happy, upbeat face conveyed a warm and friendly welcoming presence to the men spending the night. He is remembered for leading Grace… often by inviting a guest to lead us
He also organized a fundraising effort at St. Peter called "Garden of Eatin.” Hot dogs were grilled at the front of St. Peter on Sundays when Panthers played at home. The proceeds offset some of the cost of "Room in the Inn” and other charities. Tom and Carolyn physically shopped for the food, ordered it, picked it up and brought it to the church on Saturdays. Carolyn worked downstairs while Tom “managed” the volunteers – setting up tables, grilling the “dogs,” and selling the food. He “employed” the homeless to carry the tables, equipment and supplies from storage, set it all up and return it to storage afterwards. Tom was always joyful during these events exhibiting the true nature of service to those less fortunate.
Tom impacted the lives of so many, not just the homeless, but also his neighbors, his fellow parishioners at St. Peter Catholic Church (“Fr. Gene without the collar”), his coworkers at Urban Ministry, patients and staff in the Assisted living facilities in which he resided for brief times (he was always the “Mayor”), and his football and baseball friends. He was rabid about Notre Dame (his alma mater) and Boston Red Sox (just look at his SUV!) Complete strangers fell under his charm within minutes – He was so friendly and kind and made newcomers feeling, for the first time, that Charlotte could feel like home.
Humor was a big part of Tom’s persona with his gregarious and fun-loving heart. He is remembered for being part of a St. Peter troupe, “the Pitiful Players” and for tackling any role (even women) in his Shakespeare course. His laugh was contagious and healing. How needed on this earth is the laughter that Tom generated for each one of us!
Carolyn and family are deeply indebted to Leandra Smith, Tom’s devoted caregiver, and Aaron Hemmings who made it all possible.
A celebration of Tom’s life will be held at St. Peter Catholic Church on November 8, 2021, at 2 PM.
Live stream will be available at https://boxcast.tv/view/funeral-mass-of-tom-crozier-412945 .
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to Hospice & Palliative Care, Charlotte Region (https://www.hpccr.org/); Roof Above (https://www.roofabove.org/roof-above-coming-soon-v2); or St. Peter Catholic Church – designating Room in the Inn ministry (https://www.stpeterscatholic.org/)
Tribute To Tom from his son Tommy
Since my Dad’s passing, I have thought a lot about him and how he has had such a positive influence on my life. My Dad grew up in a small steel town in the Ohio Valley. He was captain of the high school football & basketball teams and President of his class. Most young men who grew up in that town ended up working in the steel mill like their fathers and grandfathers did. My Dad became the exception and went to college, and not just any college but to arguably the #1 Catholic university in the country, Notre Dame (Go Irish!). He went on to graduate from Notre Dame and have a very successful career as Claim Manager for North and South Carolina with Aetna Life and Casualty Company.
My Dad was a great role model and inspiration to me. He taught me discipline, work ethic, loyalty, patience, and faithfulness. He always showed me unconditional love, no matter how bad I screwed up. I could not have been blessed with a better father.
I don’t ever remember my Dad speaking a harsh word to me, my sister or my mom. I never heard my Dad swear, well there was the one time when we lived in Scituate, MA and someone was trying to break into the back door of our house in the middle of the night. We finally figured out he was drunk and thought he was at someone else’s house.
The day of my Dad’s passing, I drove to Charlotte and spent several days with my mom. She talked about what a great husband he was and how she had dated a lot of guys before she met my Dad and how he was the first to meet all the qualities my mom had on her list. I learned a lot from Mom that I didn’t know and I am so glad she has shared and that all of you have shared the stories about how my Dad has touched your lives.
I have been so blessed to hear all the great things my Dad did for so many people. One person shared how my Dad, “grabbed my oldest daughter's hand and the hand of the AIDS victim and began to pray”. I didn’t know my Dad was that bold in his faith. I hope everyone reading this will follow my Dad’s example and pursue a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. My Dad and I both have that relationship with Jesus and I will see Dad again in Heaven.
Until we meet again, I Love You, Dad!
Your son, Tommy
From Tom and Carolyn’s In-law children:
I will never forget my father-in-law Tom Crozier.
In the next few paragraphs, I will explain why, but if I had to describe it in only one word, it would be because of his “example.” He was a model to us all and I ask his forgiveness on this poor attempt to describe a beautiful person with a wonderful nature.
I think about how the milestones and commitments he faced were an example of turning change into stability.
He humbly grew up in the Ohio River Valley working in the steel mills. He then set off for the University of Notre Dame which would provide a spiritual foundation of loyalty, faith, and service. He honorably committed to a successful marriage of more than a half century to Carolyn, the love of his life. As a business executive, he grew with one company over an entire career. All this he managed with dignity.
He had a love of culture and society that made him the example of the modern-day Renaissance man.
We would have lengthy discussions about art, philosophy, politics, and a shared love of sports particularly our admiration of Boston baseball. The games we saw at Fenway will always be a delightful memory. How appropriate that the last thing we did together was watch a Yankees Red Sox game.
He was a splendid example as a father. He cared for his children without dominating them. He was like a trusted advisor bound by Love.
Another example was his unwavering Faith. At St Peter’s Catholic Church, he found solace in the Jesuit tradition and the parish mission of sharing in the joy of the Gospel and to come to know, love and serve God and one another.
He personified the scripture, “You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone” (James 2:24) This was true in so many ways but particularly with his devotion to helping the homeless and the disenfranchised. At times I was able to help him at the homeless shelter he led or deliver food to the homebound. He was happiest when he was helping others - charity in action.
Yes, I will never forget Tom. His example is something I do not think I will ever be able to emulate but if I can just demonstrate a fraction of his character then I will be a better man for it.
Tom passed on the Feast of the Exultation of the Cross. The Cross is the great symbol of Grace. How appropriate because Tom’s Grace touched us all.
In Loving Memory of my Father-in-Law
Dear Tom (Dad),
I might have only known you for a year, but it feels as I have known you forever.
God really did bless my life by allowing me the time that I shared with you. I believe part of my purpose of life while you were here was to make you smile and laugh as you always did when I was with you. And for that I am grateful.
You fought a good fight while battling your illness, but God decided to call you home. And now I know you are resting peacefully and watching over us.
I miss you…
I love you….
I will smile and laugh whenever I think of you.
Until we meet again in Heaven.
From Tom’s cousin Sam:
TOM AND THE SOAPBOX DERBY CAR
Tom and I grew up together. He was like an older brother to me. being born a week to the day before me. Tom’s mother (Aunt Rose) and his father (Uncle Pat), with Tommie, of course, visited our house in Gastonville, Pennsylvania, practically every holiday to see my mother (Josie—Rose's oldest sister), my father (Archie), and Grandfather Bennie (Josie’s and Rose’s father) and my uncle Elmer who lived with us. Also, my brother Elmer and sister Verne would show up with an assortment of other family members and friends. They often took the train from their home in Bellaire, Ohio to Finleyville (the closest stop to Gastonville).
These were great times for all of us. The sisters cooked wonderful foods (oh my, those homemade gnocchi), talked and talked, and saw to it that Tom and I didn’t get into too much mischief. We entertained ourselves with games and other pursuits ranging from putting on magicians shows for the family to building projects.
One of such projects I still remember although it must have happened more than70 years ago. This was building a Soapbox Derby Car. I had collected the parts over the winter time in anticipation of this project. Tom and I got to work fixing several boxes (I think they were fruit boxes) together on top of some wheels on axles. As I recall, it took a lot of time and, with all due humility, considerable ingenuity on our part to get this thing together from the castoff parts we had. But we did and were ready for the test run down our street (unpaved of course).
I volunteered to go first. Tom, always a gentleman even at that age, did not object. I made a successful run without the car collapsing. Then, it was Tom’s turn. For those of you who do not know me, I was “somewhat” shorter than Tom. (See photo on tribute wall). Indeed, when we were together there were some people (who will remain unnamed) who referred to us as Mutt and Jeff. Well anyway, when Tom tried to get into the seat of the car, he couldn’t get his legs under the box covering the front of the car. So his test run was delayed until we were clever enough to remove the top cover of the box and in and off he went. I’ve never met a finer test pilot.
Let me close my remembrance of happy days long ago with my brother Tom with the hope you will remember your happy days with him as well. He had that rare gift of making everyone happy to be with him.
Those were the days, my friends. Those were the days.
Quotes from some of the many tributes to Tom follow:
Tom’s leadership was the root of who we were, I’m a better person for having been his friend. G.G.
Tom introduced me to the Jesuits and the act of giving for the greater glory of God. M.R.
When we moved to CLT in 1997, Tom and Carolyn were among the first people we met. Their warm welcome made us feel like we weren’t strangers. L&M B.
Just a couple weeks before our wedding which was a” village made” event, I attended daily mass - a very rare event for me given my work schedule. Tom gave a warm greeting and asked how Tim was doing. And I told him I was really worried about him as he was under a lot a pressure with his business. Our May 6th wedding date was fast approaching and Tim was committed to painting a couple of rooms in his house in Dilworth for our after-wedding reception gathering. But time was slipping between his fingers. Tom C. to the rescue … he commandeered the “Dilworth Drips” (fellow parishioners at St. Peter.) Thanks to Tom and the Drips we had a respectable party venue and for the start of married life.
I don’t think Tom ever expected to change the world but he was a real presence in it.
To me he was Father Gene without the collar.
Never judgmental. Overflowing with love and compassion C.A.
Tom was always so great with my mother, who came to visit on a regular basis. He was always genuinely happy to see her which would make her day. He would rush over to talk with her, give her a kiss and make her feel so welcomed. Tom made her feel like she had a friend in Charlotte. J.A.
Tom was a leader in service as well as a warm hand to greet us. A.A
Throughout the years Tom continued to be THE VOLUNTEER at St. Peter and always created an atmosphere of love and joy. He lifted up spiritually all who were lucky enough to be in contact with him and he will always be in our hearts. B.D.
Our first introduction to Tom and Carolyn was one of such welcoming when we moved into the neighborhood 16 years ago! We knew we were in the right place when Carolyn brought us homemade rolls and Tom handed out adult beverages to the "big kids" on Halloween. We knew immediately we were in our forever home! J&A S.
For me, for all of you at church and community and work, he was the same gentle, witty, dependable, considerate person. He was the rock. A St. Peter rock, if you will, the supreme guardian and volunteer and friend to everyone We always talked about our toy soldier collections and what we hoped to obtain someday. I believe he has gone straight to heaven. P.R.
Tom, with Carolyn’s constant support, contributed greatly to what St. Peter Church has become. M.M.
Tom was my friend. We moved to Charlotte in 1986 about the same time the Jesuits arrived. Not long after we joined St. Peter, we were down in Biss Hall for some occasion and Father Gene came up to my little family and asked us to join hands with a guest who was with him. Father then went on to say his guest had AIDS but not to worry, he wasn't contagious. My children were little at the time and had no idea what Gene was talking about and kept asking about this AIDS "thing", over and over and in front of Gene's guest. Tom must have sensed my concern because he quickly strode over, grabbed my oldest daughter's hand and the hand of the AIDS victim and began to pray. N.C.
I thought Tom's humility as witnessed by his use of self-deprecating humor in order to communicate a very real (i.e., tangible) sense that the Holy Spirit was alive in him and motivating him to manifest empathy toward his fellow man. [Or, put another way, the Holy Spirit was allowing Tom to see Christ in every person he met -- the suffering Christ, the servant Christ, the joy-filled Christ…]. T.P.
Tom was an amazing man. He will live on in our hearts. J&M M.
As most parishioners, know (just look at his SUV) Tom was an alum and avid supporter of Notre Dame. In the good times, Tom and Carolyn would make a yearly trip to South Bend for a game. Notre Dame usually won at home, prompting some wild celebrations after the game. I seem to recall one year, Carolyn returned to Charlotte with a broken wrist. She claimed to have “fallen over a chair”? J&P L.
Before the start of a new football season which is when we did the hot dogs, Tom would contact me and say it was that time again to get the grills ready for cooking. The grills were always a mess, having been outside all winter, and never really put up cleaned, etc. we would meet to clean them. I say “we, “ for Tom had the knack to be the supervisor and I was the grunt. I was ok with that as I knew Tom did so much more and this was one way I could contribute. It was always fun, because we would argue Yankees vs Boston baseball. Tom always had a sense of humor and always had a side story to share. He was a friend and will be missed. B.M.
When we joined St. Peter in 2000, one of the most memorable first impressions that we experienced was a tall, rather distinguished-looking fellow with a thatch of white hair and a bristly mustache. He seemed to be everywhere and to know everyone. It wasn’t long until we were drawn into the extraordinarily large friendship circle of Tom Crozier. Tom’s outgoing personality and irrepressible good humor is legendary. Tom has been a role model and inspiration to us, and continues to be. We are better people for having known him, and we will greatly miss him. G&H K.
For a period of months Tom was in a couple of assisted living facilities. I would try to visit with him about once a week when not out of town. I would have lunch with him, listen to live and recorded music, play bingo and other games, sit on the terrace and just talk, encourage him during physical therapy, walk with him using a cane or walker or pushing him in a wheel chair thru the halls the facility where he would always greet other residents and providers with a smile. In my old occupation (County Manager) I would have enjoyed working with Tom as my Mayor (Chairman of the Board). J.F.
Most of you know that Tom was rabid about two things — Notre Dame and the Boston Red Sox. Being a Yankees Fan and a graduate of a Jesuit college gave us plenty of opportunity to bust each other’s chops. One day at church he comes up to me to tell me that he had something for me and to meet him after mass. He asked me if I knew where the Yankees Triple-A farm team was. At the time it was the Columbus Clippers. He said, “You win the prize,” and handed me a Derek Jeter Bobblehead in a Columbus (!) uniform. He told me that Jeter was the first minor leaguer to be honored with a bobblehead doll, and since Jeter was on fire in that particular year, he wanted me to have it. And now, I share it with the rest of you! T.B.
When I worked with our group Homeless Helping Homeless on a tail-gating effort to collect aluminum cans to cash in, we would always run into Tom selling hot dogs outside St. Peters on Panther game days. While he was generally dressed in much more casual clothing than he wore on Mondays, he was the same spirit – always saying something to make me laugh and always offering a kindness to our group members. I am so grateful to have known him. L.C.
We are relative newcomers to St Peter’s. We joined perhaps eight years ago. But shortly afterwards we met Tom in Biss Hall. Tom being Tom lost no time trying to recruit us for Room In The Inn. Well, who could resist his spiel and we said yes. That was Tom with his enthusiastic and sincere engagement with people. RITI has become my favorite ministry and then we added Garden of Eaten then serving at the men’s shelter…all because Tom Crozier made it his mission to find ways to continue caring for the marginalized and inspiring others to do the same. Our acquaintance grew into friendship with both Tom and Carolyn. Deep friendships made later in life are not frequent so to say we treasure ours is an understatement. God bless Tom Crozier and May he Rest In Peace. And may all her wonderful memories comfort Carolyn. J&B S.
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