In keeping with the way Gene Crowley viewed life's problems, big and small, let's begin with the beginning and end with the end. Bernard Eugene Crowley was born to Marvin Hugh and Vivian LaVelle Fulgham Crowley on Sept. 7, 1952, at the Oktibbeaha County Hospital in Starkville, Miss., just up the road a bit from their home located just outside Maben, Miss.
It was a world full of all things that boys love and the state of the world still allowed those boys to ride their bikes or their mules wherever adventure and curiosity might take them. Anyone who sat and talked very long with Gene would hear stories of his childhood, teen years and college years that centered around Maben, his brother and his many cousins.
It was here that he grew into an avid hunter, fisherman and gun collector.
After finishing high school at Maben High where he ran track and held several state records for many years, he attended college at Mississippi State University. He worked a full time job while attending classes and obtained his degree in landscape architecture.
In December 1974, he moved to Canton, Miss. to take a job at a landscaping service where he had worked the previous summer. As luck would have it, that landscaping service had interests in Helena and Gene was dispatched to spend several months there. On the very day he arrived in Helena, he met Rhonnie Burks and they were married Aug.9, 1975 in the Helena First United Methodist Church.
In July 1975, Gene joined the staff at Planters Service and was involved in all areas of the business that encompassed agricultural implement and equipment dealerships, retail and wholesale fertilizer sales and application and farming. With his background from working in his parents' dairy barn as a child and all the knowledge he had gained from working with Planters Service for many years, he established Malibu Farms in January 2000, and completely focused on farming. He farmed up until the very day of his death, planning for the 2014 year.
Always a baseball fan, Gene discovered the Memphis Redbirds and became a season ticket holder in 2000. He attended every game he possibly could in Memphis and listened to both the Redbird games and the St. Louis Cardinal games to keep up with "his discoveries.” For several years he attended spring training in Jupiter, Fla., to jumpstart the baseball season and check out the coming talent and then would end the year by attending several games at Busch Stadium.
Gene's greatest passion was the people in his life, most especially his children and grandchildren. There was nothing he would not attempt to help someone for whom he cared; nothing so important that he would turn a fellow human who was in need aside. He most admired people who were able to make a mistake and stand up to take the blame and then take another plunge.
Page 2 of 2 - What people most admired about him was his strength of character and self.
A recovering alcoholic, he entered himself into rehab in July 1995, and practiced the program until his death. Along the way he helped countless others into the program and through hard times. In his 19 years of sobriety, he never broke the promise he made to himself or his family. It was and is a shining example of what one man can do if he sets his sights on an end goal and simply take life one day at a time.
In November 2011, Gene was diagnosed with throat cancer and began radiation therapy. During a checkup in December 2012, it was found that the throat cancer had returned and he was also diagnosed with lung cancer and began one of many rounds of chemotherapy, followed by radiation therapy.
After a two-year battle, Gene passed away at his home, early in the morning on Jan.4, 2014. He was 61 years old.
He is preceded in death by his parents and brother, R. Hugh Crowley and mother-in-law, Mary Jo Burks.
He leaves his wife, his children, Bernie Crowley of Helena; daughter and son-in-law, Charlee and Gene English of Croxton, England; granddaughter, Keira Elizabeth English of Austin; grandson, Callum Rhys English of Croxton, England; father-in-law, Pat Burks of Helena; goddaughter, Amanda Ruth Higginbothom of Fayetteville; and several nieces and nephews.
The family asks that, in lieu of flowers, you join them in supporting Gene's favorite charity The Jason Motte Foundation, P.O. Box 241520, Memphis, TN 38124 or www.jasonmottefoundation.org. Jason is a closer for the St. Louis Cardinals and works tirelessly year round to raise money to help The Wings Foundation of West Clinic in Memphis to provide comfort and care for cancer patients and their families who are affected, either directly or indirectly, by cancers of all kinds.
Visitation was held Monday, Jan. 6, at the Crowley home near Helena, and services were Tuesday, Jan. 7at the Helena First United Methodist Church with burial immediately following in the Maple Hill Cemetery.
Pallbearers were Scotty Fraiser, Mark Higginbothom, Patrick Simmons, Tracy Griffin, David Gregory and Alan Von Kanel.
Honorary pallbearers were Bo Corder, Buddy Wheeler, Buron Griffin Jr., Steve Wilkerson, Steven Fulgham, Don Johnson, Rita Ann Johnson, Patsy Shaw Wheeler, Judy Dozier Griffin, and Judy Dulaney Bartlett.
Roller-Citizens Funeral Home, Helena-West Helena, directed services.
Friends and relatives may sign the online guest book at www.rollerfuneralhomes.com.