Edward Crosby Obituary (1932-2021) – Kent, Ohio


Kent State Professor Emeritus Dr. Edward W. Crosby stepped out of this mortal spiral and into the land of the ancestors on February 10, 2021. An important chapter in the history of black education has come to an end. He was well known for his pioneering work in black studies. Dr. Crosby was born on November 4, 1932 in east Cleveland, Ohio to Frederick D. Crosby and Marion G. Naylor. From then on, “nothing was given, everything was earned”. At an early age he fell under the spell of the Church and wanted to be a priest, but soon became disillusioned. He also became disinterested in school and spent many days playing hookie. This lack of interest in the school continued until he met his future wife Shirley R. Crosby in a joint writing class. This proved beneficial when he was drafted into the army. The fact that he could write earned him a position in the office of the SCARWAF adjutant general. Between the enforced discipline of the army and the affection he had for Shirley, he was honorably discharged in 2 years. The GI Bill helped him return to Kent State to end a remarkable career as a student, professor, and administrator. He spent most of his time in Kent, Ohio, where he received a BA and MA in Medieval German Language and History. He received his PhD from the University of Kansas (KU). His dissertation on the “Journeys of Sir John Mandeville” was entirely in German and was 2 volumes long. He has taught German and Spanish at several colleges, including Kent, Hiram, and Tuskegee, but is best known for his work at Southern Illinois University, Kent State, and the University of Washington, where he worked mostly with black students who often needed touch-ups to become competitive in a friendly environment. He spent his East St. Louis years developing a curriculum for the Experiment in Higher Education (EHE), one of the first programs in the United States to be specifically designed for underperforming students. In 1969 he was offered a position in Kent State which gave him the freedom to build a new department in Kent from scratch. He accepted the job and was able to help thousands of students graduate, earn advanced degrees, become successful in a number of fields, while helping others at the same time. Three mottos that describe his efforts are “Everyone teach you”, “If you do it, do it right” and “To be black, not for a month, but for a lifetime”. During his 25 years in Kent, he organized the world’s first Black History Month celebration and was involved in a number of other educational innovations, including cross-curriculum holism, the use of cable and video surveillance in the classroom, and the use of desktop computers in the office and the classroom ahead of all other departments in Kent and many other Black Studies departments across the country. Survivors include his wife, Shirley R. Crosby, of Kent, Ohio; Sons, Kofi Khemet, MEd. from Kent, Ohio; Darryl ML Crosby (Kelly) of Akron, Ohio; Elliott M. Crosby of Dover, Florida; his eldest brother, Fred M. Crosby (Sweetie); four sisters-in-law, Sandra (Kenny), Mary (Richard); Vera (Bobby) and Charlene (Bobby) and five grandchildren. Memorial services will be held on Saturday, February 20, 2021 at 10 a.m. EST at. broadcast live www.sommervillefuneralservice.com and Sommerville Funeral Services Facebook page. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, personal participation is only possible by invitation.

Published by Akron Beacon Journal on February 18, 2021.


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