Monday, November 15, 2010

Bill Cronin (1940-2010) - Go Rest High Mr. C!

Every once in a while, we are fortunate enough to cross paths with someone who, through love of family and strength of character, is able to impact our lives in ways words could never begin to describe. And rarer still is a person who, through undying faith and a relentless spirit, is able to touch the lives of every single person he meets. The world is less one hero today – a husband, a father, a grandfather, a firefighter, a friend.

On Saturday, Mr. Cronin lost his battle with cancer, with his wife and children at his side, in the very home where he raised his children and entertained his grandchildren. To adequately express the sorrow we are all feeling with the passing of Mr. C is simply impossible. But to celebrate his life and to share what he meant to so many people in our lives is easily done.

Bill was a devoted, loving husband to Pat and a giving, dedicated Dad to Kathy, Kris, Danny and Billy. Family and friendship were 1 and 2 on Bill’s “What Is Really Important” scale. He willingly opened up his home to everyone he knew. Third Street was a place we could go and hang out and feel like we were at home. I remember Bill always being there, swilling a Diet Pepsi and making sure the pool was ready for swimming if we wanted to swim. Simply stated: If you were a part of his kids’ lives, then you were a part of his life. That’s just the way he was.

Mr. Cronin does not know this story and shame on me for never sharing it with him. Years ago, I was working at a group home in Dracut with adults with developmental disabilities. While there, I spent a great deal of time working with Mark, a man who had spent most of his adult life in an institution and had just moved into the group home. A couple of things about Mark – he loves to swim and he loves “power tools.” Of course, when I asked Mr. Cronin one day if I could bring Mark over to swim, the answer was absolutely. Mark walked around the pool chest deep and just laughed and splashed for at least an hour and he had a fantastic time. But that is not the end of the story. While Mark was swimming, Mr. C had come out of the house to do some yard work and he had a leaf blower in his hands. Well, needless to say, this made Mark a very excited man. He got out of the pool and wanted to look at the leaf blower (it is a power tool after all!). So Mr. Cronin spent just a few minutes showing Mark the leaf blower and he let him use it for a couple of seconds. This was probably 18 years ago. I happened to see Mark about a month ago. Like I always do with Mark, I relive memories with him. I mentioned Mr. Cronin and the smile on Mark’s face was one of sheer elation. “Mr. Cronin has a leaf blower!” he said with a hearty chuckle. It may have been just a brief moment in Mark’s life 18 years ago, but it has stayed with him and it goes to show exactly what kind of man Bill was to everyone he met.

As a firefighter in Lowell, he spent 34 years kissing his wife and children as he headed off to work, knowing that he was putting his life on the line for the safety of others and that any of those goodbyes could have been his last. With his wife and children at his side this Saturday, Bill had that final goodbye. Like in everything he has ever done, Bill was courageous and strong to the end.

Bill’s family is coping with an indescribable loss today. And because of the man Bill was, that family stretches beyond the walls of his home to include an entire community - a community that holds a special place in its heart for Mr. C. Rest in peace Bill – you will be sorely missed!

Lowell Sun Obituary

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

November 10, 1775 - Happy Birthday

"That two battalions of Marines be raised consisting of one Colonel, two Lieutenant-Colonels, two Majors, and other officers, as usual in other regiments; that they consist of an equal number of Privates with other battalions; that particular care be taken that no persons be appointed to offices, or enlisted into said battalions, but such as are good seamen, or so acquainted with maritime affairs as to be able to serve by sea when required; that they be enlisted and commissioned to serve for and during the present war with Great Britain and the Colonies, unless dismissed by order of Congress; that they be distinguished by the names of the First and Second Battalion of Marines."

On November 10, 1775, the Second Continental Congress issued the above resolution and ordered newly commissioned Captain Samuel Nicholas to establish two battalions of Marines, commissioned to conduct offensive and defensive combat missions during boarding actions and to protect a ship's officers from mutiny.  Captain Nicholas established the recruiting station to be Tun Tavern in Philadelphia with the then bar owner, Robert Mullen as chief Marine Recruiter.

From that November in Philadelphia 235 years ago to this overcast morning in New Hampshire today, Americans have been kept safe and have remained free because United States Marines have gone first.  Freedom comes with a heavy cost and the United States Marines pay most of your share.

To my brother Jim, my brother-in-law Steve, my California friend Maria and every other Marine, Happy Birthday!!!