Local residents and members of the publishing world were stunned to learn on Tuesday (April 17) that Chronicle Publisher Kevin Crosbie, 52, had suffered a heart attack and died at his home.
The Chronicle is one of the last family-owned newspapers in the country, and has been the source of local daily news since 1877.
Kevin was the fifth generation of his family to be Publisher of The Chronicle, the role he took over from his mother, the late Lucie Crosbie, in 1992.
In the aftermath of his untimely death, friends and colleagues remembered him for the person he was behind the title – a family man, a constant in the community, an ally, an athlete and a very good friend.
News of Crosbie’s passing moved quickly through the community.
The Windham Town Council Tuesday honored Crosbie with a moment of silence before its meeting, and expressed shock and disbelief that such a prominent member of the community was gone.
Crosbie was remembered in many ways, not the least of which was for his forthrightness and honesty.
“If he liked something, he’d tell you. If he didn’t like something, he’d tell you that too,” said Windham Mayor Ernie Eldridge.
“Kevin and I didn’t travel in the same circle but I considered him my good friend,” he said.
Condolences also poured into the Chronicle Tuesday from newspaper heads around the state who knew Crosbie professionally and personally.
Michael Schroeder, president of the Bristol Press described Crosbie as “a dedicated journalist” who worked diligently to preserve community newspapers in Connecticut.
“He was committed to doing what was right in every situation and I took away new ideas from each conversation I had with him. The news media will be much weaker in this state with the loss of Kevin,” Schroeder said.
Crosbie was a hands-on publisher and ever present in the newsroom. He operating at times out of nothing more grandiose than a cubicle in the corner.
He was the go- to person for just about everything and would just as soon climb a ladder to change a light bulb as put on a jacket and sit down with the governor — as he did recently when Gov. Dannel P. Malloy paid a visit to the Chronicle.
Former Chronicle features editor Terese Karmel described Crosbie as “a soup-to-nuts guy.”
“At midnight he’d be at the paper, in jeans and a sweatshirt, ironing out some printing problems … and then that night, he’d be in a gray suit and tie hosting a Chamber of Commerce dinner,” she said.
Chronicle photographer Al Malpa said Crosbie treated everyone fairly. “There was no hierarchy with him,” said Malpa.
Crosbie as a forward thinker, he said, always drumming up innovative ways to make the paper better.
His business savvy ways and his nose for news combined to make him one of a kind, said Gary Farrugia, publisher of The Day. “Kevin was a smart businessman with the soul of a journalist… He was a fine human being,” Farrugia said.
Crosbie held several leadership positions in the greater newspaper community; he served as past president for the Connecticut Daily Newspaper Association and as Chair of the Connecticut Daily Newspaper Association’s legislative committee.
Richard Graziano, publisher of the Hartford Courant recalled, “As president of the association, he was a committed leader. He was a fierce advocate for our industry who successfully fought legislation that stood to negatively affect our business in a significant way.”
Despite trying economic times that continue to take a toll on newspapers around the country, the Crosbies have fought successfully to keep the Chronicle in the family.
“The fact that he was the fifth generation of a family that has led a local media organization since 1877 speaks volumes,” said Graziano.
Mike Killian Sr., vice president for the Record-Journal in Meriden, described Crosbie as a “fellow who loved the industry… He had a passionate commitment to journalism, as did Lucy, his mother.”
A graduate of Windham High School, Crosbie went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in English from Skidmore College in Saratoga, N.Y. He joined the Chronicle in 1984 and became publisher in 1992.
George Geers, who was the Chronicle editor when Crosbie made the transition to publisher, called Crosbie, “a class act… The closest I’ve come to George Bailey of ‘It’s a Wonderful Life.’”
Despite the Chronicle’s status as a smaller daily, Crosbie as its publisher was well respected as an industry leader among his peers.
“He was passionate about, and dedicated to, preserving the independence of the Chronicle,” said Shawn Palmer, publisher of the News Times in Danbury.
Outside of the news business, Crosbie nurtured his longtime friendships and enjoyed some 30 years of ice hockey with old high school buddies. The group began getting together to play pond hockey in the woods of Windham and while they all loved the game, their greatest fondness was for one other.
“They were terrific hockey players, but they were better friends,” said Mike Sypher, Chronicle sports editor, who went to high school with Crosbie and has worked at the Chronicle for 25 years.
Even though described as a hands-on publisher, Sypher said Crosbie was hands-off where it mattered most.
“He let us do our jobs and he trusted our abilities. He was the best boss I ever had and will ever have,” said Sypher.
Norm Miller, a longtime friend and fellow hockey player, said there were countless good times to be remembered with Crosbie, but mostly he was the best kind of friend. “He always seemed to be there when I needed a friend. When I came home from Iraq, he was the guy who picked me up. When I was down, he was there,” said Miller.
Michael Lemanski, Chronicle city editor, has known Crosbie since 1997. As a sports enthusiast, he admired Crosbie for his interests both inside and beyond the newsroom — especially his membership on the Boubere and Buzzard hockey teams.
“Kevin was the only publisher I’ve ever worked for who played ice hockey,” said Lemanski.
Lemanski added, “He cared about his staff, family and community and he represented what newspapers should be.”
That sentiment was shared by many others who knew Crosbie, including Eldridge.
“He was a man that you could trust,” said Eldridge. “There are not many newspaper people you can say that about, but Kevin was one of them.”
Posted April 18, 2012, as edited by HTNP.com Editor Brenda Sullivan
Charter Communications/Community Access also shares this link to a recent interview with Kevin Crosbie on “On the Homefront.” He was interviewed by Bruce John and John Murphy.
Kevin Bartlett Crosbie, Feb 22, 1960 – April 17, 2012
Kevin B. Crosbie, 52, of Willimantic, husband of Patrice A. Crosbie (nee Pernaselli), father of Caroline, Meredith, and Arthur, passed away suddenly on April 17, 2012.
Kevin was born in Willimantic, son of the late Arthur and Lucy Crosbie.
Kevin is survived by his wife, his brother Vincent and fiancée Emma Rodriguez Suarez, his cousins Diane Studley, Jennifer and Rob Smith and children, his aunt and uncle Joan and Bob Fraser, cousins Katie, Shawn and Denise, his father and mother in law Joseph and Marianne Pernaselli, brothers and sisters in law, Joseph Pernaselli, Michael and Meg Pernaselli, Mary and Michael Regensburg, and nephews, Christopher, Jeffrey, Brian, Evan and Sean.
Kevin graduated from Windham High School. He received his Bachelor of Arts Degree in English from Skidmore College. In 1984 he joined The Chronicle, and has been Publisher since 1992. Kevin was the fifth generation of his family to be Publisher of The Chronicle which was founded in 1877.
Kevin was a past President of the Willimantic Lions Club, the Willimantic Chamber of Commerce and the Connecticut Daily Newspaper Association.
He was an avid hockey fan and member of the Boubere and Buzzard Hockey teams.
Visitation will be held on Friday, April 20, 2012, between 4 and 7 p.m. at Potter Funeral Home, 456 Jackson Street (Rte. 195) Willimantic, CT.
His Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated on Saturday, April 21, 2012, at 1 p.m., at St. Joseph Church, 99 Jackson St., Willimantic, with assembly at the church. Burial will follow immediately.
In lieu of flowers, the family asks that memorial contributions be made to The Holy Family Home and Shelter, 88 Jackson St., Willimantic, CT. 06226.