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Forest Park, Tri-Cities area honor philanthropist Crumbley

By Joel Hall

jhall@news-daily.com

On Wednesday, during a memorial service for the late Ed Crumbley, sitting on a table next to tomato slices and deviled eggs, was a plate full of dollar bills and checks written out to the Tri-Cities and Forest Park Clothing Depository.

It was a fitting tribute to a man who spent most of his life asking people if they had a dollar to spare.

Until the very end of his life, Crumbley -- who would have celebrated his 92nd birthday next Monday -- solicited the leaders and residents of the South Fulton and North Clayton communities, to make sure the Tri-Cities and Forest Park Clothing Depository was always operating in the black.

"Loan me a dollar ... it was his greeting," said his daughter, Cheryl Abernathy. "That was a saying he would say to anybody."

Crumbley, a long-time member of the Loyal Order of the Moose Lodge and Chaplain of the Son of the American Legion in East Point, started the clothing depository on Christmas Eve in 1959 as a dare by fellow Moose members to help clothe veterans and other needy southside residents.

Abernathy said Crumbley walked the streets of East Point, going door-to- door to raise the funds necessary to start the clothing depository. Later, he convinced businesses, surrounding city governments, and even the state to keep it going. He served as the depository's general chairperson until his death on August 3.

Pasty Jo Hilliard, a former mayor of East Point, said Crumbley was a familiar face in her office who wasn't afraid to ask for what he wanted.

"I was the mayor for 13 years," but, "Ed ran the city, actually," said Hilliard. "I think, probably, when I was first elected, Ed came to visit me and he told me about the clothing bank. I told him that I had some clothes to bring and that was the beginning of a long relationship.

"Ed was a very caring person about everything that was going on in the community, so I involved him in everything that I was doing in the community," Hilliard continued. Every year during her tenure from 1992 to 2005, Hilliard said she re-appointed Crumbley as an East Point Housing Authority board member, a title which he held for 30 years.

"Our city was certainly made better because of Ed," she said.

Over the years, Crumbley nurtured relationships with Moose Lodges, American Legion Posts and Sons of the American Legion squadrons in Jonesboro, Forest Park, East Point, and Hapeville. Every year, he held award dinners to honor local civil servants, outstanding citizens, and members of the media he believed contributed to the community.

"Ed has respect for the veterans," said Jerry Burkhead, commander of American Legion Post 51 in East Point. "Without clothes [veterans], can't find a decent job. There was never anything that I called on him that he didn't help me with. If there ever was a hero, Ed was a hero, because he looked at everyone as a friend."

Christy Davis, community service specialist for the Georgia District United Postal Service, said that she met Crumbley through his granddaughter, and as a result, coordinated many service projects with him.

"If you met him, you were a part of him from that day forward," said Davis. "Because he was passionate about it, he was persistent about it. There was no stopping him."