Delivered by Vincent Bartlett Crosbie
Funeral of Lucy May Bartlett Crosbie
Friday, January 6, 2012
St. Joseph’s Church
99 Jackson Street
Willimantic, Connecticut, USA
Forgive me if my voice quavers or breaks. Outside as my role as her son, I’ve given perhaps 100 speeches, to up to a thousand people. But this will be the most difficult I’ve ever given: The eulogy for Lucy before her closest friends.
All who knew Lucy knew that she was as integral to Eastern Connecticut as are the Willimantic, Shetucket, and Thames rivers.
And like those rivers, her life was enriched by various streams:
- The headspring of these streams was the legacy she inherited at a young age: The daily newspaper her great-great-grandfather founded in 1877 and which the family has operated ever since. She never had to find a purpose in life. The Chronicle was the effervescent stream that gave her life purpose.
- That purpose was to ensure the flows, ebbs, eddies, and course of news and information about the area’s communities. To satisfy the thirsts of people who wanted to know what was going on in the town where they lived.
- She was the reporter’s reporter. If she couldn’t find a reporter to report the story, she would do it herself. (Indeed, it wasn’t unusual for police or firemen to see the Chronicle’s publisher among the first responders at a blaze or accident. On the day she died I finally disconnected the police/fire radio in her home.)
- Her standards of journalism were high. Those who worked for her know that she brooked no inaccuracies, never meandered from objectivity.
- She was a font of local knowledge. The high water marks of her work were probably the 100th and 125th-year commemorative editions of the Chronicle and 275th and 300th-year editions about the founding of the town of Windham, each of which offered a flood of historical information and stories about this community—most written by Lucy. (She even wrote a history book about Groton Long Point, the community where for decades she spent summers.)
- Her career, which lasted for 66 years, ran a remarkable course. She began working part-time at the Chronicle at age 16, one month after the death of her father, at the time the newspaper’s publisher. She then completed in just three years a B.A. in Management from Boston University, thereafter working for the Chronicle for the rest of her life. In 1954, she became its publisher at age 25. Not only was she among the first women to publish an American daily newspaper, but certainly the youngest.
- Yet another major stream in her life was her marriage and family. She eloped with a naval officer, who became her partner in her business and purpose, as well in life; raising two children in a household in which I can tell you there was nary a turbulent word ever spoken between Lucy and her Arthur ‘Bud’ Crosbie. His untimely death left her a widow for more than 35 years.
- Her friends—so many of whom are here today—were the stream of her life that buoyed her those years. She was a loyal, loving, and faithful friend to one and all. Fun to be with, humor bubbled from her.
- And like a river, she nourished the community in many other ways, in so many fields. She sat on too many local, regional, and state foundations, boards, and charities for me to list. She was an avid local philanthropist, most often anonymously. No worthy cause went unaided if she could help.
Every river must eventually end its course. In her hospital room on New Year’s Day moments after she had breathed her last breath; I watched as the sun rose over Eastern Connecticut and saw the colors of sunrise splash and play over her face. All I could think was that it was as if all the tributaries and streams of her life were saluting and celebrating all she had accomplished in life.
Today, we celebrate and tribute her, a life flowing with dedication, generosity, loyalty, love, humor, and community service. We shall miss her!
Thank you all for celebrating her fulfilling and remarkable life.