Rutland Remembers Prominent Local Attorney Art Crowley

Aug 20, 2019

Rutland is remembering former state's attorney and influential city alderman Art Crowley, who died Sunday at the age of 90.

Crowley grew up in Rutland and served in the U.S. Army during the Korean War.

After graduating from Boston University Law School, he returned to Rutland and in the late 1950s, served as Deputy Attorney General for the state of Vermont. In the early 1960s, he was Rutland County State's Attorney before becoming a founding member of the law firm Keyser Crowley PC.

Arthur Crowley
Credit Tossing Funeral Home, Courtesy

Besides his long legal career, Crowley was active in Republican party politics and was a close friend and campaign manager for Senator Robert Stafford. It was Crowley who pushed to have Rutland’s vocational school renamed the Stafford Technical Center.

Former mayor Jeffrey Wennberg called Crowley one of the most formidable figures on the city's board of aldermen during the late 1980s and into the 1990s. 

"He was a real a force of nature," Wennberg said. "He relished rolling up his sleeves behind the scenes to tackle tough issues. He did his homework and he picked his issues and his battles carefully. He had some great ideas and was very forward thinking."

Wennberg called Crowley "the best ally anybody could have in the world of politics or public policy."

If Crowley was on the other side, however, Wennberg added, "You'd better fasten your seat belt: you're going to be in for a ride.” 

Wennberg said it was Crowley who convinced him to create Rutland’s Police Commission decades ago when there were a number of problems within the police force.

“I opposed his idea initially,” admitted Wennberg. “But Art changed my mind.”

Wennberg said Crowley was both intimidating and gracious.

"Nobody could not get along with Art because he just wouldn't let that happen," Wennberg said. "He could shout down anybody and pound the table 'til everything on the table bounced. And then when he was done stating his case, or basically doing his advocacy, then he was done."

"He had a personality the size of the Green Mountains and he just absolutely loved the community and the state." — Former Rutland Mayor Jeffrey Wennberg

After that, Wennberg said, "We’d move on and, you know, let's go have a beer; and we have a beer and sometimes he'd be persuasive and sometimes he wouldn't. But in all cases there was never any lingering animosity or anything. It was, "Let's work together on the next one.'"

Wennberg said he was deeply saddened to learn of Crowley's death.

"He had a personality the size of the Green Mountains and he just absolutely loved the community and the state," Wennberg said.

Rutland’s current mayor, David Allaire, said he’s admired Crowley for years.

“He was just so committed to the city in so many different ways,” Allaire said. After stepping down from the city’s board of aldermen, Allaire said Crowley served on Rutland’s school board and was part of the most recent police chief search committee.

“He liked to get down into the trenches and get into the nuts and bolts of things and move the city forward,” said Allaire. “He was just someone who you could look up to as an example of how you should go about your daily business.”

Mary Crowley said her husband was a creative force who believed passionately in education and his community, and that he dearly loved his siblings, friends, and family. She said a memorial service will be held in September at Grace Congregational Church in Rutland, but no date or time has been set yet.