My friend Tyke Crowley passed this Monday, December 7 due to liver cancer. He was truly an inspirational person, who worked tirelessly to help others live their lives to the fullest. This post is for him.
He almost made me faint the first time I met him.
My friend, Tyke Crowley and I met via the Environmental Leadership Program. We were fellows in the 2008 New England Region Network (NERN 08). ELP is a program that brings together people working towards environmental and social impact and helps them develop personal and professional leadership skills.
Our first class retreat was a three day long diversity training designed to bring the group of fellows close and face some very heavy issues. By nightfall that first night, our group had formed a special bond that usually takes months to develop, created by confronting themes of equity and injustice head on.
At dinner that night, we continued to share informally about ourselves. Tyke shared with a small group of us his journey with cystic fibrosis, taking us through the details of his two double lung transplants. I “chose” to share at that moment my inability to handle medical information with any amount of grace, and the familiar signs of passing out began to manifest. He noticed my pallor right away, paused his story and asked if I needed some fresh air. I managed to nod and he escorted me outside to sit down.
I’ll never forget that. This man, who had endured endless hospital stays, pain, operations, and had been so near to death that he had said goodbye to family and friends and come back from the brink, had the compassion not to laugh at my fragility and queasiness around just the thought of what he had endured. He sat kindly and quietly with me in the cold night air until I regained my composure.
That was Tyke. He accomplished anything he set his mind to. You’d think he’d be too busy battling a life threatening disease his entire life to be accomplished professionally, but that was far from true. In his 43 years he obtained a law degree, a double master’s degree, was a town planner, a senior policy advisor for Senator Kerry, and started (at least) two businesses. He also made time to take his Goldendoodle, Leo, a therapy dog, help tutor kids with reading at his local library. His final business, Life Path Insights, taught people how to create lives worth living.
Tyke was a life coach, informally, for as long as I had known him. I remember pacing my apartment for countless hours with him on the other end of the phone working to get my “Personal Leadership Plan” (an ELP capstone project) just right. Later, he served on the advisory board of my company and pushed me to get what I really wanted out of my work.
He made the transition to formal life strategist in 2012 and I cannot imagine a better use of his skills. Anyone who knows him can tell you he overcame cystic fibrosis and two lung transplants on sheer will alone. He wanted to share with the world the skills he developed to fight for life – and not just any life but a life with meaning. It was his gift to us.
Lucky for us, Tyke’s motivational work still lives on through the videos and podcasts on his website. He wife, Jen, says he instructed her to finish the book he was writing about his journey. Death will not stop Tyke Crowley from sharing his motto of “make each day count” with the world.
A line in his LinkedIn profile reads: “If I look back on my life, have I made each day count?” I can confidently say that yes, Tyke, you did. And even better, you made our days count, too.
A fund has been set up for Tyke’s wife Jen. Funds will go to Tyke’s medical and afterlife expenses and to fund Cystic Fibrosis Research. Please consider donating: https://www.gofundme.com/pjdxu6m4.