Thomas Crosby Jr. loved his family, his rural Medina home, maple syrup season, his Medina community, the metropolitan arts scene, hockey, the outdoors, his law profession and more.
The former Mayor of Medina had some experiences to savor this spring during his three-month encounter with stage 4 pancreatic cancer.
He lived long enough to watch his family tap maple trees on their property near Wolsfeld Woods and cook it into maple syrup — a triumph after witnessing last year’s poor maple syrup season.
He delighted in the hockey championship of his alma mater, Yale University.
And he experienced a standing ovation at the May 7 Medina City Council meeting, as Medina recognized him for his many years of service to the city.
Tom Crosby died at 3 p.m. Sunday, May 26, at age 74. “His passing was very peaceful with all of us at his side,” his son Stewart wrote on his Caring Bridge website.
Funeral arrangements were in progress as this newspaper went to press.
Crosby learned of his cancer in early March and discovered that the tumor was inoperable. The tumor was the size of a baseball and doctors thought it had been there for some time. As he began chemotherapy, he told Medina city staff of his desire to serve as mayor for as long as his health permitted. His declining health forced him to resign from his position on April 16.
He lived with his wife Ellie in Medina for over 40 years and together the couple raised four children, Stewart, Brewster, Grant and Brooke. A graduate of Yale Law School, he was in private practice as an attorney after retiring as a partner in the Faegre Baker Daniels law firm.
During his law career, he developed an expertise in real estate law that he put to use in his home city. He served on the Medina City Council from 1977 through 1984 and went on to sit on the Planning Commission, which he chaired in 2007. His career as mayor of Medina began in 2007 and ended unexpectedly this year as he fought cancer. Voters re-elected him last fall.
He also had a lengthy career of public service in the Twin Cities metro area. For example, he served on boards of directors of Twin Cities United Way, the Walker Art Center and Lake Robina.
When the city of Medina recognized him on May 7, the certificate said, “Mayor Crosby provided extraordinary leadership and guidance on city finance and general budget matters, public improvement projects and matters related to efficient provision of fire protection to the city.”
He led the city as it struggled with the issue of how to pay for repairing city streets, which were showing their age. He and city councilors listened as Medina residents protested a proposal to rely on general fund money and property tax increases. City officials responded by creating a special assessment policy, through which benefitting property owners now are paying part of the bill.
Under Mayor Crosby’s leadership, Medina solved the problem of where to house its Public Works and Police Departments. Both had outgrown their quarters on County Road 24 and expensive vehicles were standing outside. At first Medina officials looked at building a new public works building and eventually a new police department. Then they grabbed the chance to purchase the former Clam Corps office/warehouse building on Clydesdale Trail and renovate it to house both departments — thus saving taxpayer dollars.
Significant development and park projects took place during his tenure as mayor. Open Systems International moved its headquarters to Medina. Lennar and U.S. Homes are building two large single-family developments south of Hamel Legion Park. Uptown Hamel attracted the Hamel Station retail development and experienced infrastructure improvement. Hamel Legion Park gained its new field house and concession stand. The new Tomann Nature Preserve is preserving open space for future generations.
Also, Medina joined neighboring cities in facing significant water quality issues in Lake Independence, Lake Sarah and surrounding watersheds. Mayor Crosby encouraged current Mayor Liz Weir and City Administrator Scott Johnson, as they worked with the city of Loretto, the Lake Independence Citizens Association and several watershed commissions.
People who knew Tom Crosby described what he meant to them in their writings on his Caring Bridge web site:
“We will miss him certainly, but we will take what we learned from him — his thoughtfulness, his caring, his questioning, his passion; those things will be in our hearts always,” said Peter Hutchinson and Karla Ekdahl.
“Over the years I came to know Tom, it was his judgment, his sense of fairness, and above all his deep integrity that made a truly wonderful whole of a man,” said Peter Karoff.
“We were so sorry to hear of Tom’s passing. He was an inspired and thoughtful leader of our Medina community and a wonderful human being. We will miss him,” said Fred Webber.
“Hearts are breaking everywhere as we say our prayers tonight with fond memories of one the truest gentlemen of all time,” said Linda Lane Soper.