THOMAS J. (TOM) CROWE
Tom Crowe, Chairman of the Board of MB –F, Inc. passed away October 9, 2007 just three weeks before his 90th birthday.
Born on Halloween in 1917 in Monessen, PA he traveled a circuitous path into the Fancy. He studied at Case School of Applied Science and the University of Pittsburgh, majoring in Metallurgical Engineering and General Medicine. Though he held a doctorate in medicine he never practiced, partially because of the satisfaction his life in dogs brought him.
While he owned several breeds as a child (his first dog was an Airedale; a Pembroke Welsh Corgi was another boyhood companion), his entry into the sport of dog shows came about in the 1940s when he acquired a Great Dane. He was encouraged to show it so he attended a show to see what it was all about – and he liked what he saw. He learned to show the dog himself and it wasn’t long before he was being asked to show dogs for other exhibitors. He eventually became an AKC licensed all-breed professional handler.
During the ‘50s he was a regular columnist for Popular Dogs Magazine and was a featured co-host on a Youngstown, Ohio TV show that featured segments about dogs. His Blackbird Kennels in Warren, OH housed all breeds, but about half of the 100 dogs in his care were Poodles, many of which came from the famed Highland Sand Kennels. His favorite was the Miniature Poodle, Ch. Highland Sand George. George came into Tom’s life at the age of five months. At the end of his show career several years later, George’s owner said he couldn’t break up the duo and gave him to Tom. George’s death at the age of 19 so affected him he could not bring another dog into the household for nearly two decades, when Toy Poodle, T J Fuzzie arrived to steal his heart.
Well-known for the Poodles he handled, other breeds also brought him top honors. In 1961 he won the prestigious Ken-L-Ration award as the handler of the Top Winning Dog, Eastern Division of the U.S. (Pekingese, Ch. Bettina’s Kow Kow) and in 1962 he was the handler of the first Weimaraner to win the Sporting Group at Westminster (Ch. Val Knight Ranck, whose show record with Crowe stood until recent history).
He was a member of the Board of Governors of the Professional Handlers Association and was a former editor of the PHA Bulletin. He was also the organizer and chairman of the First Educational Conference of the Professional Handlers Association in 1963. He and Mel Downing would in later years bring into existence the Board of Review for the Certification of Professional Dog Handlers (CPH), which was disbanded when they attained their goal of AKC once again taking on the registration of Professional Handlers.
His handling career, begun in 1949, came to a close in 1963 at the Beaver County Kennel Club fall show. While he had many Bests in Show over the years, this day he won five of the six Variety Groups then in existence…and did NOT go Best! The next day he was in Detroit at the Bow Dog Show Organization as their new Vice President and Treasurer. It was while Crowe was with the Bow organization that he first became intrigued with computers and how they could be applied to the dog business.
After leaving Bow in 1967 he arrived in Greensboro, NC at Moss Dog Shows. He became the sole owner and by 1970 the Bow organization was merged with Moss and it became the Moss-Bow Dog Show Org. In 1973, the Foley organization became the “F” in MB-F. Mindful of the history of the sport, at that time Crowe said, “People ask why it’s not called Crowe Dog Shows. It’s because I’d like the pioneering efforts of Edgar A. Moss, A. Wilson Bow and George F. Foley to live on.” Portraits of these gentlemen still hang in the entrance of the N.C. headquarters office of MB-F.
He lived very much in the future and it’s because of Tom that present-day exhibitors experience many of the things currently in existence within the sport. He was responsible for AKC becoming computerized. He made it possible for Superintendents to have entry services. He was the driving force behind MB-F’s website, infodog.com. He’s the reason MB-F was the first to publish online premium lists and online judging programs, take online entries and publish online results.
He felt very strongly that any who participate in the sport in any way – an exhibitor, a club, judge, breeder, etc., should give back to the sport and to their community. He did so in a quiet manner throughout his entire career in dogs. A former Board Member of the NC State Veterinary Medical Foundation, he was involved at the inception of this facility and through a scholarship program. As a CHF Board Member he was a staunch supporter of the AKC Canine Health Foundation and he received the Foundation’s President’s Award in 2001. In 1998 he was named the Gaines’ Dog Man of the Year and in 2001 was inducted into the Nature’s Recipe Hall of Fame.
During WWII he had served as a pilot and navigator in the U.S. Army Air Corps and his love of flying stayed with him. He held a license as a Commercial Instrument Rated Pilot through his years as the head of MB-F, oftentimes piloting the MB-F airplane to shows and club meetings and the myriad other duties a Superintendent performs. His retirement from MB-F found him busier than ever as he continued flying for the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary as a Senior Pilot. He advanced to the rank of Commander of the 7th District, which encompasses North and South Carolina, Georgia and Florida, reporting directly to Washington, DC. He also acted as the Liaison Officer to the FAA with the 7th and re-wrote the Flight Safety Manual and the Search and Rescue Operations Manual for his District, which were then adopted nationally. He also served as an instructor for the Auxiliary.
Being very mindful of the future he planned for the future of MB-F as he did everything else. He said he’d seen too many organizations disappear because the head of the organization had not properly planned for the time he/she would no longer be around. In 1985, he called together MB-F Board Members, Bob Christiansen, Fred Lyman and Dorie Crowe. He put Bob behind the President’s desk, and said to the group, “Here’s the five-year plan for MB-F we just adopted. You guys implement it; I’m moving to Florida tomorrow.” And he did. He continued as a consultant to MB –F and was constantly thinking of what might be possible next, but the day-to-day operation of the company fell to his hand-picked and properly mentored three-person management team. Tom and Lois returned to Greensboro in late 1997 to be nearer their family.
With the love of his life, Lois, his wife of 64 years by his side he often said, “I’ve had a great life. Through dogs I’ve met great friends, traveled to wonderful places, done everything I wanted to do and accomplished everything I wanted to accomplish.” Quite simply, he loved the sport, devoted most of his adult life to it, and it’s better for having had him. We will miss him greatly.
He is survived by his wife, Lois; daughters, Dorie Crowe and Mrs. Terry White; granddaughters, Mrs. Katy McAdoo, Shannon Greene and Mrs. Brie Porter, and great-grandchildren, Dakotah, Jeffery, Micah and Michaela, Travis, Piper and Wyatt, and a sister, Mrs. Marylou Budd, and nieces Mrs. Pamela Owens and Loretta Griffin.
In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made to the AKC Canine Health Foundation, the NC State Veterinary Medical Foundation, Take the Lead or the American Diabetes Association.
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