The President's Man: Leo Crowley and Franklin Roosevelt in Peace and War

By Stuart L. Weiss | Go to book overview

15
Epilogue

Leo Crowley left Washington amidst tributes ranging from the Hill to the Vatican and with a long, useful life before him. For a decade he would advise on matters involving the FDIC; later, he would serve quietly on the Civil Rights Commission created during President Dwight D. Eisenhower's second term; and still later, he would dine at President Lyndon Johnson's White House and send him supportive notes. Essentially, however, Crowley was once more an apolitical businessman. In October, 1945 he returned to Standard Gas. Though he was forced out two years later by a collection of disgruntled bondholders, this was primarily a reflection on their impatience in a difficult postwar era. Better testimony to Crowley's business acumen is to be found in the many years he ran the Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul & Pacific Railroad. Named chairman of the bankrupt system in December 1945, Crowley not only took it to profitability, he performed so brilliantly that, after he left in the mid-sixties, its board called him back to handle its takeover of the Northwestern Road. Not until 1970, his work done and almost eighty, did he go home, there to die two years later.1

Crowley's funeral mass was remarkable for the sweep of those who attended: bishops throughout the state; nuns he had aided at St. Mary's Hospital; friends from the Milwaukee Road and from the FDIC; and Republicans as well as Democrats. But at least one reporter singled out Thomas Corcoran, the sole member of the Roosevelt administration there to mourn. Few knew Crowley better than this former New Dealer turned lobbyist, and Corcoran spoke of him as "one of the giants of his day." Curiously, this was the same politician, administrator, and businessman columnist Robert Riggs identified in 1944 as "The Nearly Obscure Crowley."2

This biography was designed to place Crowley's lengthy service

-238-

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