The Crorys: model New Hampshire public servants

Elizabeth and Fred Crory represented what’s truly best about the Granite State

Longtime Upper Valley state representative Elizabeth Crory passed away this February at age 82. She was a tireless advocate for the underserved, a dedicated public servant and someone who touched the lives of many, including my own.

Elizabeth and her husband, Fred, truly represented what’s best about New Hampshire and public service.

In 1978, I was a junior at Dartmouth College and also a state representative from my hometown of Bedford. I had been commuting to legislative sessions in Concord in my 1960s-vintage Volkswagen Beetle until it quit, leaving me without a car. Representative Crory, who sat in front of me in Section Two of the cavernous House of Representatives, generously offered me a ride. We soon became friends.

The ride from Hanover to Concord and back several times a week offered me the opportunity to learn a lot from Elizabeth, who was in the middle of a distinguished 14-year career in the Legislature.

One evening on the way back to Hanover, I told her I could no longer afford to attend Dartmouth and would be leaving at the end of the semester to find work, probably out of state. A few days later, she suggested I meet with her husband, Fred. 

A former Marine who served during the Korean War, Fred Crory had used the GI Bill to become a civil engineer. In 1978, he was a senior manager of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers based in Hanover. Fred offered me what turned out literally to be the opportunity of a lifetime. 

Fred’s unit was the Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory (CRREL). He offered me a job there for the summer to relieve a couple of men. The work, he said, would be hard. I would be working with oil drillers and flying around the wilderness of Alaska on behalf of the federal government to monitor several remote oil and gas well drilling sites.

There were two stipulations to the job: First, once in Alaska, there was no coming back early – it was too expensive to train and then get there. The second was I had to graduate from Dartmouth on time with my class the following year.

In the summer of 1978, I arrived by Twin Otter plane at Camp Inagok on the North Slope of Alaska. I lived and breathed oil exploration and helped make sure the wilderness we worked in would be left as pristine as it had been found.

In 1979, I graduated with my class at Dartmouth and that summer worked again for CRREL on the North Slope of Alaska.

An important lesson I learned when I was 22 years old is that others stepping in and providing a hand up can truly make all the difference in a young person’s life. What we need today is for policymakers, educators and businesspeople to take a page from the lives of people like Elizabeth and Fred Crory and find innovative ways to create opportunities that give young people a shot at a career right here in New Hampshire.

Getting more young people to stay in New Hampshire to live, work and raise families should be a top priority for our state. 

Fred and Elizabeth Crory exemplified what is best about New Hampshire. They offered me the opportunity of a lifetime. They also left it up to me to work hard, to follow through, and the responsibility to make the best of an opportunity. Had they not given me that chance at a critical juncture of my life, I would never have been able to later give back as a public servant. Fred and Elizabeth Crory instilled in me a sense of service, commitment and community, and I know they did so in many others as well. Ultimately, that is the best legacy any of us can leave behind. 

Mark Connolly, owner of New Castle Investment Advisors, LLC, Portsmouth, is former director of securities regulation and former deputy secretary of state for New Hampshire.

Categories: Opinion