Obituary for John V. Crowe
John (Jack) Vincent Crowe, died peacefully in his Lake Forest home surrounded by his family on October 3, 2017. He lived life as a faithful husband, committed father and grandfather, talented businessman and passionate civic leader.
Born in Chicago on February 27, 1928, Mr. Crowe is survived by his constant companion and wife of 58 years, Peggy (Toohey), and his five children; Molly McKenna (William), John Crowe (Lisa), Kelly Horne (Robert), Mimi Mitchell (Todd), and Peter Crowe (Lesley).
Jack attended St. Giles elementary school in Oak Park, and graduated from Oak Park and River Forest High School. He attended Regis University and received his JD from Loyola University, Chicago. In 1953, Jack was drafted by the Army and was selected to become a member of the Counter Intelligence Corps. After completing his service in 1955, he became President of his father’s trucking company, Transport Service Co., which carried chemical and food products. Mr. Crowe became known for his culture of keeping his trucks “spotless”, and through his innovative strategies and keen business sense, the company thrived. Kenan Advantage Group purchased the company in 2008.
Jack married Margaret (Peggy) Ann Toohey on January 17, 1959. According to Jack, it was Peggy’s style and character that told him she was the one. “She had a great personality and a good sense of humor, and always looked pretty….I was really drawn to her.”
Always a fan of entertaining, a favorite memory for Jack was being host to all three daughters’ weddings at their home. Small in stature, he was “Big Jack” to sixteen devoted grandchildren: Will, Kelly, Laura and Michael McKenna, Katie, Jack, and Missy Crowe, Meg, Peter, and Henry Horne, Margot, Christopher and Sarah Mitchell, and McKenzie, Spencer and Peter Crowe. A highlight for his grandchildren was Christmas Eve with “Big Jack” and Peggy.
In addition to Peggy, Jack’s other true love was the opera. As a young boy his mother would play Enrico Caruso, and his favorite composer, Puccini. He sang with the church choir, and on Christmas Eve he would sing the Ave Maria, solo.
The Lyric Opera of Chicago benefited greatly from Jack’s dedication. He joined the Lyric Board in 1993 and served on the Executive Committee since 1996. “Jack Crowe brought passion to his life and to his pursuits,” said award winning opera singer Renee Fleming. “We have lost a friend and great supporter of the Arts.”
Jack’s philanthropic commitment included the Art Institute of Chicago’s European Decorative Arts committee, the Chicago Botanic Garden, The Garden Conservancy, Lurie Children’s Hospital, the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, and Rush University Medical Center, as well as several other organizations in South Florida. He also served as President of the Casino Club in Chicago. In 2016, Jack and Peggy endowed an Education Fund at St. Giles School where they both attended elementary school and were married. Father Carl Morello said of Jack, “Aware of the blessings in his own life and of the many needs of those who value but struggle to provide their child with a Catholic education, Jack’s generosity took over and St Giles was one of the fortunate recipients.”
Jack was a resident of Hobe Sound, Florida where he enjoyed playing tennis and golf. He also spent time oil painting and on Wednesday afternoon could be found at the bridge table. “Jack was irrepressible,” said a friend. “He never lost his zest for learning, moment by moment. He had the rare talent for having the respect of wise and powerful men, as well as the love of small children."
Jack had loyal friendships that spanned many different areas of his life; from business to the arts. Sandy McNally, who proudly called Jack a friend for over thirty years, remembers Jack’s impeccable taste, sense of style, and attention to detail. “He was quite the collector of beautiful things for his home and garden and enjoyed sharing them with others.” His friends and family appreciated his unique talents, according to architect Phillip Liederbach, “Jack’s appreciation of and enthusiasm for Classical Architecture was boundless. He seemed to enjoy the pursuit of perfection as much as the results of our collaboration!” but it was his dedication to his wife that made a lasting impression with his children. “His marriage to my mother was one in a million,” his daughter Kelly recalled. “They really had something special.”
Visitation Monday October 9, 2017 3PM until the time of mass 5PM at St Vincent DePaul Church, 1010 West Webster Avenue, Chicago. Interment private. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to the Jack and Peggy Crowe Education Endowment Fund at St Giles School, 1034 Linden, Oak Park, IL 60302.