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R.I.P. Mr. Cromie. You always left us wanting more…

May 8th, 2012 · No Comments

Credit to The Star-Ledger and Eugene Paik for a nice tribute article in the May 8, 2012 Star-Ledger.

Mr. Cromie’s Opus: Pequannock High mourns influential music teacher

Published: Tuesday, May 08, 2012, 7:15 AM
Eugene Paik/The Star-Ledger By Eugene Paik/The Star-Ledger  

Retired Pequannock Township High School music teacher William Cromie poses with a student at his final Christmas concert in December 1999. Cromie, 73, of Kinnelon, died Saturday from complications with cancer.

PEQUANNOCK — Both fable and fact have long surrounded the career of retired Pequannock Township High School music teacher William Cromie, and death has done nothing to change that.

In fitting fashion, Cromie’s former students greeted the news of his death with an outpouring of memories. Cromie, 73, of Kinnelon, died Saturday at Chilton hospital from complications with a months-long bout with esophageal cancer, said his son, Aaron.

Some tales were true and personal — “He changed the direction of my life,” said former pupil Ed Lamoureaux. Others were tall tales that were whispered for years — “I think he may have been at the high school since it was built,” some said.

But all of the stories reflected how larger than life the man was to his students, how deep their connection was over his 40 years of Pequannock High classes and his retirement in 2000.

“As a kid, you struggle with acceptance, with who you are,” said Lamoureaux, 48. “He was a guy you felt safe around but still gave you the latitude to be who you are.”

Teaching band, choir and chorus at the Morris County school for decades, Cromie was forever the refreshing, fun teacher of which most students dream.

What made him stand out was his rare gift of knowing how to handle teenagers. He had the sense of humor to roll with risqué high school jokes, he gave them the freedom to make choices, and he knew how to restore order.

A student of Cromie’s for three years, Mike Gogel, 32, said the man commanded respect because he made sure everyone felt they belonged. “He didn’t care if you were a good singer — it didn’t matter,” he said.

According to Lamoureaux, Cromie, who also announced the high school’s football games, connected with students across all cliques and single-handedly made music and theater the school’s social hub years ago.

Cromie’s reach stretched across different generations of the same family. Gogel said his mother and aunts, all former students of the teacher, were ecstatic when they learned Cromie was his teacher. Gogel said his mother had pursued a career as a professional singer largely because of Cromie’s influence.

“That’s a heck of a legacy for anyone,” said Pequannock schools Superintendent William Trusheim, who once worked alongside Cromie in the high school’s music department. “His chemistry with students was just incredible.”

His impact inspired former students to return home for Cromie’s annual concerts no matter where they lived, and it prompted Lamoureaux to create the Facebook page “Dear Mr. Cromie” as a final show of appreciation.

“I wanted to show him how many people loved him,” Lamoureaux said. “The guy deserves that.”

A visitation is scheduled from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. and from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Friday at the John Scanlan Funeral Home in Pompton Plains, and the funeral service will be at 10 a.m. Saturday at the First Lutheran Church in Clifton.


Tags: Public Relations and Communications

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