Tom and Mary Crogan Celebrate Their 70th Wedding Anniversary

Attend Mass Daily at St. Pat's              

"Now you behave yourself," Mary Crogan admonishes gently as Tom Crogan clasps her hand. And he beams, blue eyes twinkling.  They look at each other and then, self-consciously, at the camera.

Tom and Mary Crogan are posing for their 70th wedding anniversary photograph and you may be sure that its reproduction in The Vindicator today-the anniversary was yesterday-will be clipped and marveled at and placed in scrapbooks and mailed across the country and even abroad.

There will have to be a clipping for each of their five children, 32 grandchildren, 32 great-grandchildren and two great-great-grandchildren, not to mention all the myriad customers who have patronized Crogan Plumbing and Heating Supplies since 1919.  That was when "The Boss" established it in the cellar of his home at 609 Hayes Ave.  His customers played follow-the-leader to the second shop behind the Crogans' next home at 109 W. Marion Ave., and finally in 1948 to its present building at 1514 Oak Hill Ave.

And certainly members of St. Patrick Church will clip the picture of their fellow parishioners who've been pillars of that church for 61 years, attending Mass every morning.   Up until a few months ago, work bound motorists on Oak Hill could almost set their watches at 8 o'clock when they saw the Crogans, walking hand in hand, the short block from their home.  They still live in the 11-room house on W. Marion into which they moved their family in 1923.  And while Tom, 91,still walks daily to Mass, Mary 90, goes only on Sunday when their daughter, Mrs. Elizabeth Timlin, picks them up.

You may be sure, too, that the picture will be on the bulletin boards at the Diocese of Youngstown, Catholic Charities, St. Vincent de Paul Society, Boy  Scouts of America, Assumption Nursing Home, Knights of Columbus - the list could go on and on, because the Crogans have spent their adult lives as integral parts of virtually every benevolent cause in the diocese.  Tom, in particular.  As mother of seven children (one of whom was stillborn and another died at 3), homemaker and bookkeeper for many years in the family business, Mary had personal responsibilities.  Not only to her own family, but to relatives and friends whose misfortunes were eased by the Crogans' generosity of self and resources.

This has been a busy weekend for the Crogans: in addition to the anniversary, marked by a 5:30 p.m. Mass and a family gathering at home Saturday, their granddaughter, Miss Marie Crogan, was married Friday afternoon to Mitchell Sukalo.

"If you've seen one Crogan you've seen them all," Tom joshes as he shows us pictures of their 71 descendants - one for every year of their marriage and one to grow on!  Here is a picture of Tom and "his girl," the former Mary B. Roche, the day they were married at St. Rose of Lima Church in Carbondale, Pa., and here is a picture of the four Tom Crogans taken 16 years ago - Tom. Sr., Tom Jr., Tom III and Tom IV.  Here, too, is the framed marriage license, creased from being carried in Tom's wallet.

The mail brings a personal letter of congratulations from President Carter.  A registered Democrat, Tom is naturally pleased but he grins his Irish grin and remarks that he's been known to be "50-50" when it comes to voting.

Relaxed in his rocking chair beside "Mother" in hers and occasionally patting her knee, Tom reminisces about his youth when his Irish-born parents reared their 10 children in Simpson, Pa., and when he, only 10, went to work in the coal mines with his father.  When he was 12 the mines closed in the great coal strike of 1900 and he went to work in the Klott silk mills.

Even though he dropped out of school after the fifth grade, he took a correspondence course to learn the plumbing trade and he still has the framed copy of his master plumber's license issued in 1915.

By then he and his Mary - they'd known each other since grade school when she lived in "Monkey Run" and he at "Turkey Hill" - were married and after a few years of getting on their feet they brought their family to Youngstown where he set up his first shop at Hayes Avenue.

It was Mary who answered the the telephone and minded the store while Tom was out working.  "She quit on me one day," Tom recollects, giving her a playful pat.  "She'd told me to label the prices on everything so she wouldn't have to go and look in the book every time a customer came.  This one day, she asked if I'd done it and I'd forgotten to and she jumped up and said 'I quit!' and quit she did, didn't you, Mother?"

When Tom didn't go to his customers on foot, pushing a two-wheeled cart with all his tools and material, he went on the street car.  "I'd have all the pipes hang out the window."

 It would be impossible to enumerate all the schools, churches and other buildings in which Crogan Plumbing and Heating made - and still makes -  life more convenient.  Tippecanoe Country Club, Mill Creek Field House, St. Patrick Church, St. Columba Cathedral and the Ursuline Mother House, to name a few.  Nor is their any way of telling how many do-it-yourselfers have gotten both good advice and good materials from "The Boss" - his family's and customers' affectionate term  for him - or any of his progeny who are carrying on the business. 

Scarcely a Catholic organization in the diocese has not been aided or even founded by Tom Crogan. He helped found the St. Vincent de Paul Society here and was president 32 years of its Particular Council, was a founder of Catholic Charities, helped start Father Kane Camp at Lake Milton, among dozens of other activities.  In 1965 he received his parish's first "Man of the Year Award."

On his own, he has spent countless hours visiting hospitals to comfort patients, collecting contributions for the less fortunate and for fund drives for church-related projects, and the like.

All of the Crogan's children except one, Mrs. Mary Beardman of Tempe, Ariz., are here for the anniversary and she has just concluded a visit.  Of the others, Thomas W, and Joseph and Mrs. Elizabeth Timlin live locally while Mrs. Katherine Starring has come from Battle Creek, Mich.

Tom's  Mary is still the love of his life and he's the first to admit he couldn't get along without her.  Is she still a good cook?  "Yes, ma'am! She still makes Irish soda bread, too."  Would he marry her again?  Tom looks at his girl - his bride of 70 years - and his blue eyes mist and his soft answer, "Yes, ma'am!" is for her, not for us.


Story written by Janie S. Jenkins.
Appeared in THE YOUNGSTOWN VINDICATOR in September of 1979