Local Politics

Cancer claims life of Raleigh councilman

Thomas Crowder, who served Raleigh on the City Council for more than a decade, died Tuesday after a long battle with cancer. He was 58.

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RALEIGH, N.C. — Thomas Crowder, who served on the Raleigh City Council for more than a decade, died Tuesday after a long battle with cancer. He was 58.

Crowder joined the City Council in 2003, representing District D in southwest Raleigh, after previously working with the city Planning Commission for years helping to shape Raleigh through its turn-of-the-century growth.

“Thomas was a key piece of what has made Raleigh the best place to live in the country," Mayor Nancy McFarlane said in a statement. "His devotion to good design was part of the driving force that has brought us to the top, and reminds us that we should never settle for less than the best."

On the council, he quickly made an impact on issues such as upgrading the city's trash collection and a highly charged problem of people parking vehicles in their front yards.

Crowder is credited with a number of city-led efforts, including the redevelopment of downtown Raleigh; improvements to Hillsborough Street, Western Boulevard and Tryon Road; the city's probationary residential occupancy program and the city's enhanced relationship with North Carolina State University.

An architect by trade, he was an advocate for homeowners, and he used his professional knowledge in his council work as Raleigh grew.

"He was a close friend to me. I thought of him as a brother," Councilman Russ Stephenson said. "He was dedicated to making Raleigh a great place for its citizens. He worked harder than any other councilor to make sure we were becoming a great city. It's a great loss for the whole city of Raleigh. He'll be missed."

Diagnosed with testicular cancer in 2013, Crowder realized his service to the city was nearing its end a year later. In announcing that his treatments were failing, he asked that his wife, Kay, be appointed to fill out the remainder of his term, which ends in December 2015.

"It has been one of my most humbling and rewarding life experiences," he said at a Sept. 2, 2014, council meeting. "Citizens of District D in Raleigh, thank you for allowing me the privilege to serve you."

Crowder is survived by his wife, Kay; daughter, Rachel; son, Garrett; and mother, Mary.

Funeral arrangements are incomplete.

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