Following a long battle with cancer, former Cincinnati City Councilman and Vice Mayor David Crowley passed away early this morning.
Crowley, 73, had struggled with the illness since leaving City Council in 2009 due to term limits. After a grueling round of chemotherapy that took a toll on his body, Crowley appeared to have beaten the disease but it recently returned. He is survived by his wife, Sherri, four children and six grandchildren.
Known for his white hair, warm smile and passionate defense of progressive causes, Crowley was something of an anomaly in conservative Cincinnati but was popular with his constituency. A Democrat, he was elected to City Council on his first attempt in November 2001, and reelected three times, the maximum amount of consecutive terms allowed under Cincinnati's charter. In August 2007, he was appointed vice mayor by Mayor Mark Mallory.
A native Cincinnatian, Crowley grew up in Mount Adams with seven siblings. He graduated from Purcell High School, then entered the U.S. Navy where he served two years on the cruiser the U.S.S. Northampton.
Crowley received a bachelor's degree in psychology and a master's degree in social work from Ohio State University, and also holds a master's degree in international affairs from George Washington University. He began his professional social work career as a children’s services caseworker in Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky, and later served as executive director of Santa Maria Community Services.
Then-Gov. John J. Gilligan chose Crowley to be the first executive director of the Ohio Commission on Aging.
Also, Crowley was selected executive vice president of the American Association of Homes for the Aging, a national association representing nonprofit services for aging, in Washington D.C. from 1975-82. The following year, Crowley joined the Peace Corps and served in Jamaica and Cameroon. After that experience, he directed international relief and development projects in West Africa, Central and South America, Nepal, Thailand, Romania, Croatia, Bosnia and Kosovo.
Crowley returned to Cincinnati in 1995 to help manage the family business, Crowley's Irish Pub on Pavilion Street in Mount Adams.
Chris Seelbach, a local political consultant who is running for City Council, used to work for Crowley at City Hall. "David was my inspiration for running for office," Seelbach said. "I met him over 10 years ago at a PFLAG meeting and have been one of his biggest fans ever since."
Greg Harris, an ex-City Councilman who was friends with Crowley and his wife, was shaken when he heard the news today. "He was a damn good man," Harris said.
Shawn Baker, a local Realtor who worked on Crowley's political campaigns, said Crowley had a huge impact on his life. "He taught me so much on his campaign and at City Hall while working for another member," Baker said. "He was an amazing and thoughtful man who will always be remembered."
Funeral arrangements are pending and will be announced shortly.