Edward Alton Crowell
May 20th, 2023
Edward Alton Crowell, Dennis Legend
Prominent businessman, benefactor, politician, banker, direct descendent of Mayflower pilgrim John Howland, and 11th generation lifelong Cape Codder, Edward Alton Crowell, 96, of West Barnstable died peacefully on May 20, 2023.
Edward Alton Crowell was born May 7, 1927, the youngest child of Josephine Leach, Chatham High School English teacher, and Edward Everett Crowell, Dennis highway surveyor. Ed shared a close bond and deep love with his siblings, Robert, Helen and Jean, all of whom predeceased him. The four of them lived within one mile of each other for the majority of their lives. He centered his life around the town he grew up in, building his family home, the Salt Meadow Farm, on Main Street South Dennis in 1955. This served as his residence for more than 50 years.
He enlisted in the U.S. Navy shortly prior to his graduation from Yarmouth High School in 1945. He served domestically in a PT boat, protecting New England’s coastline. When the war was over, he and his brother used the GI Bill to help launch their own business with essentially a dump truck, a shovel and some sweat. What began as a two-man enterprise manually digging cellars eventually became Crowell Construction Inc.
After 10 years as a small business, the company established its headquarters on Route 134 in South Dennis before relocating in 1963 to its eventual home on Great Western Road, where it also could house an asphalt plant. Crowell-Lawrence Ready Mix cement plant was established in 1966. By this time, the company was widely known for breakwater and jetty construction and for specializing in road construction and paving for commercial building, private residences, and towns. Crowell Construction also was commissioned to reconstruct several golf courses, and was responsible for building two local courses, Blue Rock and Dennis Pines, ventures that allowed Ed to overlap his career with his personal passion. He was an avid golfer, with a handicap in the low single digits, and won many local titles.
Eddie was involved in his local community for his entire life and held political office from the age of 21 to 82. His first position was in 1948, when he was elected to the Dennis Cemetery Commission. He held office as Dennis Conservation Commissioner, was Commissioner for the Dennis Water District for 42 years, and in 1974 was appointed to the Dennis Finance Committee serving two terms. His proudest achievement was becoming Barnstable County Commissioner in 1974. He was re-elected twice. He also served as a director of the Barnstable County Fair and helped construct the equine facility where he drew crowds competing with his horses in pulling matches.
He rescued and cared for many abandoned and injured animals and was a major contributor to the original Angell Animal Medical Center in Boston as well as establishing his own scholarship fund for veterinary hopefuls called the “Coon Dog Scholarship” following the tragic loss of his most beloved dog. Ed was commonly spotted on the job or in the office with his dogs by his side, sporting a cowboy hat, boots, and cigar. His horses competed locally and nationally in various disciplines including racing, team pulling, and all categories of the American Quarter Horse Association. In 1971, Eddie's horse, Diamond Duro, won the world title of AAAT Supreme Champion Quarter Horse and remains one of only 52 horses to ever hold the title.
A Cape Cod legend, Ed will be remembered as a self-made man, eternal animal lover, the loudest voice in the room, a generous benefactor, and a vehement doer who could never be dissuaded. He lived his passions every day. Over the course of his long and full life, he achieved what multiple men may hope to accomplish over several lifetimes.
Ed's memory will be cherished and kept alive by his loving and devoted wife of 40 years, Debbie Campbell Crowell, and his four children: Sandra and her husband Rick Sawyer of Brewster, Carver Crowell of Chatham, Dr. Ashleigh and her husband Paul Caplin of Knightdale, N.C. and Edward Tyler Crowell of South Yarmouth. He also leaves behind seven grandchildren: Noah, Carver, Cody, Jesseca, Caleigh, Gabrielle, and Charli along with six great-grandchildren.
The family wishes to thank Ed's long-term caretaker, Marilyn Nelson.
A memorial service will be held on Friday, May 26, 2023 at 10:00 A.M. in the Congregational Church of South Dennis, Main St., South Dennis, MA. Interment will be private.
In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to your local animal shelter or animal rescue organization.
Very sorry to hear about Ed's passing. He was a great human being and very dedicated to helping abandoned and injured animals. I had the pleasure of participating in many a Coon Dog Golf Tournament in Quechee Vermont. He was a pleasure to be around. Thank you for all the great memories of the Coon Dog and my condolences to the entire Crowell family. God will have a special place waiting for Ed. Jeff Burrell
Debbie, We are so sorry to hear of Ed’s passing, although know his health has been difficult for him for some while now. He will be long remembered by so many people from the town of Dennis in particular. We hope your many good memories from your long marriage will bring you joy as you feel his loss. Betty Ann And Alan
What I will always remember about Eddie was his big heart. His love for his family, wanting to take care of all of you. He would never take no as an answer, or would turn it around to be a yes. There was always a way. Being his secretary for twenty four years, I got to talk to the girls at the Barnstable County Commissioners Office, they loved working with Eddie. I got to meet and talk with Sheryl and David at the Dennis Water District who also loved working with Eddie. When Eddie is a part of your life for so long you can't help but love the guy. Eddie was in my life for my entire life, my Dad, Eddie Clifford went to work for Eddie the year I was born in 1959. They had the best working relationship. Eddie was always trying to change things up, but Dad would just say "You can't do that Eddie"! It was a game Eddie would play with most everyone. My Dad would tell me that if Eddie liked you he would do anything for you and tease the hell out of you. Eddie was very proud of the Coon Dog Scholarship Fund. It was a lot of work, but he dug in his heels every year to make it successful. He had a lot of very good friends that he would reach out to and they would come through every year. When I first went to work for Eddie we didn't see much of him - he loved his golfing in Florida. Working for Eddie I got to meet a lot of people, and he knew a lot of people. Loved his stories about how he started business, his snow plowing experiences, he could tell a good story. Loved his laughter. Loved watching him try to pull a fast one on me and getting caught. When he got mad at me for not budging, he would say I was just like my father, stubborn. The office was always full of his beloved dogs, Sam, Casey, Coon2, Bogie, Axel, Rocky, Chase and one cat, Thumper. I remember as a child when Eddie would visit us on Christmas day in his red velvet suit jacket and big white cowboy hat. Lots of memories of Eddie at the Barnstable County Fair, with him and his crew working at the horse pulls. Dad would take us for Sunday drives and visit all the jobs they were working on. They built a lot a roads on Cape Cod. In my heart I would still want to be sitting behind that desk on Great Western Road with Eddie sitting across from me. Loved pretty much every moment of working for him and the time I got to spend with Eddie. He has always and will always mean the world to me. I will miss him very much. I am so glad that I also got to meet every one of his family and they all became a part of my life. Debbie, Ashleigh, Tyler, Sandra, Ric, and Carver, you are in my heart and I am so sorry for your loss. Praying the sadness you are feeling now will some day be filled with the memories and love that Eddie had for each of you. Love to you all.
I always have had fond memories. One of course was horse pulls at the fair. With his cowboy hat and boots and tight jeans. I fell in love with that look. My Dad worked for Eddie,driving bulldozers and trucks to Boston.When my mom died in 1960. He bought a cemetery plot for our family so we could bury momma. I did tell him how grateful I was. He said "your Dad was a great employee and your grandfather worked for for my father" what a good man he was. Rest In Peace, Mr. Crowell.
Gone from our eyes but not our hearts and minds. One of that generation’s most colorful legends. Condolences to the family. Wonder if he knows his work here is done?