When I penned my article on the extraordinary talents of Abraham Lincoln it wasn’t my intent to write a sequel about the qualities that define great men and women but with the recent passing of my dear friend and former colleague Bob Crowell I was moved to continue my celebratory salute to the unique characteristics that define the best in human nature.
While some of our leaders are eager to occupy a higher office in the distant halls of Congress far removed from the day to day challenges of their constituents, others are content to serve in a more intimate capacity as a local government representative. While the partisan bickering at the national level may make for good theater, it does not make for good governance. Crowell understood what a profoundly personal difference a dedicated local official can make in the lives of those he or she is sworn to serve.
Although I don’t remember specifically when our paths first crossed, I got to know Bob better when I ran for my seat on the Board of Supervisors in 2004. At the urging of a mutual friend he graciously consented to join my campaign committee. I was flattered that such a well-respected and widely known community leader would share his valuable insights with a relative newcomer. When he decided to run for mayor, I was thrilled and remember with great fondness, to this day, the time we spent together on the board pouring over volumes of work material and competing, during board meeting breaks, for the last chocolate-covered donut in the box.
Recent tributes to Bob all contain many of the same descriptive threads – he was a man of integrity, he was a consummate gentleman, he was kind and compassionate, energetic and thoughtful. He was a dedicated husband, father and grandfather, a proud military veteran, and a tireless advocate for Carson City. During the four years I served with Bob, I often marveled at how reasonable and well-measured his responses were to the issues of the day; how empathetic he was with others and how he contended with his emerging health issues in such a composed and dignified manner.
As popular as Bob was among the people he served, he never became complacent and his desire to serve his constituents to the very best of his abilities never waned. He was truly ubiquitous and not just during election years. Whenever there was a ground breaking, he was there. Whenever there was a ribbon to be cut at the grand opening of a new business, he was there. Whenever he was asked to serve as the Master of Ceremonies at some community function, he was there. Unlike some mayors who delegate these duties to others, Bob rarely failed to give a full measure of himself and to meet the demands of his office both ceremonially and administratively.
In the words of Martin Luther King, “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in the moments of comfort and convenience but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”
Whether in rough waters or on calm seas, Bob stood at all times for the city he loved and for the people he served. He will be profoundly missed.
Shelly Aldean is a Carson City resident and former member of the Carson City Board of Supervisors.