by Susan Anderson
Ask Bob Crowley what matters most to him beyond his family and faith, and not a beat is missed as he answers, “Working with others and trying to help them succeed.”
He has been doing exactly that for St. Bonaventure University — and a long list of other organizations — for decades. A recipient of numerous awards for his extensive service, Crowley volunteers not for the accolades but for the positive changes his involvement can bring about.
“I really believe that what is so important today, and has always been important, is developing relationships,” Crowley says, noting that the bonds he has built on “love and giving” are the ones in which he has found the greatest joy.
He credits the discipline of his major (mathematics) and the sense of service taught him while a student at St. Bonaventure as important skills that served him well in the business world.
He was employed by Blair Corporation in Warren, Pa., for 34 years, recently retiring as senior vice president of marketing and a member of the board of directors.
Today, he is involved year-round with upwards of a dozen nonprofit organizations. At the top of that list is St. Bonaventure.
“His love and appreciation for the school is evident whenever he mentions it,” says fellow alumnus and former roommate Geoff Culkin, ’71. He and Crowley met “as freshmen on First Dev” and have remained close friends ever since.
“There is a mixture of pride, concern and dedicated resolve in his voice that indicates his strong feelings for the welfare of our University,” Culkin says.
Crowley has served St. Bonaventure in a number of ways through the years, most notably as chair of the successful Kresge Challenge and the Science Advisory Council for The William F. Walsh Science Center, a member of the National Alumni Association Board, president of his alumni chapter, co-chair of the annual Bonaventure Fund, reunion class co-chair, an assistant with student recruitment, and decades of service as a Devereux Society chair. He was awarded Alumnus of the Year in 2001.
A “model volunteer” is how Mary Driscoll, associate vice president for development at the University, describes Crowley. “He has the compassion and drive to engage many of our alumni, parents and friends,” she says, adding that his is a “unique talent.”
Crowley’s devotion to others was learned at an early age. “I really believe I inherited this ‘giving gene’ from my mother,” he says. “She had seven kids and back then didn’t have the time to get involved with charitable work, but she instilled in her children a sense of caring for others, especially those most in need.”
He has since passed on that sense of giving to his two daughters, both of whom are in the Philadelphia area. The eldest, Gabrielle, devoted a year-and-a-half as a volunteer in Alaska, teaching life skills to children including those from the Native American tribes of Tlingit and Haida, while younger daughter Veronica volunteers for an animal shelter.
Though Crowley has traveled the world — on business and with his wife, Barbara Jean, and their daughters — he is quick to note that “one of the greatest experiences of his life” was the Franciscan pilgrimage with his Bonaventure family to Assisi in 2005.
It is clear that his bond with St. Bonaventure runs deep. “I’ve always felt a deep and abiding love for this University,” he says. “If I can help in any way, I want to do so.”