Dr. Fred Eugene Crossland often admitted that he lived a charmed life, and in many ways, he did. In his 97 years and 10 months, he found success in multiple careers and touched scores of lives. He faced life and death with a sharp wit and grace. He often (incorrectly) joked, “I have more nerve than talent!” In reality, his talents and interests were boundless. His death on August 3, 2018, in Gainesville, VA, will leave a profound emptiness in our lives.
Dr. Crossland was born on October 3, 1920, in the village of Snydertown, PA, the son of the late Rev. Fred Crossland and Ethel Ruth (Remaly) Crossland. At the age of three, his family moved to Brooklyn, NY. Dr. Crossland earned a BA from Brooklyn College and an MA and PHD from New York University. He received an Honorary Doctor of Laws degree from Fairleigh Dickinson University, NJ, and an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from Heidelberg College, OH.
At the age of 16, Dr. Crossland became a professional musician and, for the next six years, played piano and directed a dance band under the stage name of “Den Raynor and his Orchestra.” They played at many famous hotels and resorts in the Northeast, including the Flagler Hotel.
During World War II, Dr. Crossland served in the U.S. Army Signal Corps as a cryptographer, encoding and decoding communications. He was assigned to a naval amphibious flagship, the U.S.S. Rocky Mount, and participated in nine Pacific invasions.
Shortly after the war, Dr. Crossland was appointed to the faculty of NYU and rose to the rank of Associate Professor of Political Science. He held numerous administrative posts, eventually becoming Dean of Admissions. He left NYU in 1964 to join the staff of the Ford Foundation, where he was a program officer for higher education and research until he retired in 1981. During those years, while living in Montvale, NJ, Dr. Crossland was actively involved in local, county, and statewide politics. He hosted weekly radio shows concerning access to higher education, wrote three books on the subject including Minority Access to College, and authored scores of published articles. He was frequently consulted by federal, state and local governments for his expertise.
Dr. Crossland enjoyed travel, playing the piano, model railroading, stamp collecting, writing, crossword puzzles, home renovation projects, and of course, spending time with his family and friends. He loved both the precision and nuance of the English language. Dr. Crossland remained a “student” of history and politics. His caregivers would often marvel at his knowledge of their country’s history and geography. During his final two years while residing in an assisted living facility, “to keep my mind active,” he conducted more than 25 talks on a myriad of subjects – ranging from autobiographical observations to the Supreme Court to Russian history. He was planning another talk at the time of his death.
Dr. Crossland was married to Joanna Elizabeth (Wolfangel) Crossland for 68 years until her death in 2016. They had two sons, Fred E. Crossland, Jr. (deceased), and Robert J. Crossland. Dr. Crossland is survived by his son Robert, and his wife, Janine; granddaughter, Sarah C. Crossland, and her husband, Matthew E. MacFarland; grandson, Thomas C. Crossland; brother, Richard I. Crossland; cousin, Harry J. Hartley, Jr., and his wife, Diane; and several nieces, nephews, and in-laws.
A Celebration of Life will be held at Tribute at Heritage Village, 13650 Heathcote Blvd, Gainesville, VA on September 1, 2018, at 2:00 PM. Internment will take place at the Union Cemetery at Mazeppa, PA, on October 6, 2018, at 3:00 PM.
Memorial donations can be made to the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America or the ALS Association, National Office.