Frank James “Boomer” Crotty, Jr., beloved Daddy, Uncle, Great-Uncle, Great-Granduncle, Brother, and Friend, was called home on January 9 to be reunited with his wife Joan and their beloved Westie, Fitzwilliam.
He is survived by his daughter Joni-Marie (Aaron) LaVere and his cherished baby girl tuxedo cat, Betsy Beatrix, who will now live with Boomer’s adored granddog Violet (whom he called “Ultra”) and grandcats Jenson and Olivia.
Additional survivors include “his girls”: goddaughter and niece Rachel Lynn Bialko, nieces April Austin and Nita Gonzalez, and “heart daughters” Patricia and Jeanette Gruber.
Also an enormous part of his life were nieces and nephews Ray, David, Denise, and Chrissy, his brother Bill and brother-in-law Thom. He also leaves behind numerous great and great-grandnieces and grandnephews who always brought the most beautiful smile to his face.
Boomer was preceded in death by his beloved wife of 44 years, Joan, cherished parents, Frank and Helen, brothers Michael and Raymond, sister-in-law Dorothy and her husband Norman, nephews Mikey, Scotty, Keith, Rudy, and Jerry, as well an adored cousin Betsy, after whom his little cat is named.
On December 23, 1941, Frank James Crotty, Jr. was born to Frank and Helen (Sternisha) Crotty, who loved him beyond measure. He attended St. Raymond Elementary School and then went to Quigley Preparatory Seminary in Chicago. He excelled academically but was happiest playing sports - “pickup” baseball games were a favorite. Reading, scouts, and piano also filled his days. At the age of 8, he began stamp collecting which he passionately continued for 73 years until his death.
He attended Southern Illinois University where he played football, baseball, and wrestled, earning bachelor’s and master’s degrees in History and Government.
At SIU, he met Joan Jefferson. They were married in June 1966 and shared a lifelong passion for teaching as well as a deep Christian faith. Joan loved traveling, and their vacations included their honeymoon in the Black Hills, a 40th anniversary trip to Scotland and Ireland, an Alaskan cruise, two trips to Germany and Austria, and a family Christmas at Colonial Williamsburg to celebrate Joan’s cancer remission. They also had a magnificent trip to the Lake District, touring Beatrix Potter’s Hill Top Farm, charmed by the descendants of Peter Rabbit.
Boomer was a 25-year member of Hope United Methodist in Joliet. Following his spiritual calling, he became a Certified Lay Servant, sharing his gifts as a liturgist and delivering sermons. Boomer was involved church leadership, always focused on serving those in need. Boomer was also a Board Member of the Ridgewood United Community Food Pantry in Joliet.
Boomer’s passion was teaching. He was a much-loved fifth grade teacher at Lynne Thigpen Grade School, retiring in 2008 from Joliet Public School District 86. Additionally, Boomer was an Adjunct Instructor in the English Department at Joliet Junior College where he taught introductory/developmental literacy classes for 16 years, retiring at the age of 75.
His passion for Literacy knew no bounds. Boomer was a 30-year member of the Illinois Reading Council, and was highly involved on both local and state levels. Through the IRC Speaker’s Bureau, He gave talks about incorporating children’s books in the classroom, presenting at the IRC Annual Conference, the annual READ Conference (University of St. Francis/Joliet), and for various local councils and libraries throughout the state. His final talk, “Laughture and Literature,” was given at the AISLE Annual Conference on November 5, 2022.
In 2018, Boomer was awarded that year’s IRC Service Award that is only given to the most deserving individuals for their commitment to children’s literacy. It was one of the greatest honors of his life. He ended his acceptance speech with these words:
“And amidst everything else going on in the world and all the bad things, everything happening, you need some glimmer of hope to say: ‘yes, I’ll go on tomorrow.’ And that glimmer of life in the Irish sense is a penny candle which you light rather than curse the darkness. And you are that penny candle, you are that light, the future.”
Lastly, his daughter would like to honor the depth of love she had for and felt from him. There are no words, just love, and the love we get to keep. Peace to you, Daddy, bright be the place of your soul.
Boomer would not want flowers, but would have been honored by any donations to (or prayers for) the following groups which gave his life purpose and joy:
Will County Reading Council
11S706 Lillian Ct.
Naperville IL 60564
Hope United Methodist Church
2506 Caton Farm Road
Joliet, IL 60435
One Goal Animal Foundation
(Betsy Beatrix’s alma mater)
Checks may be made out to: “One Goal Animal Foundation” and sent to the family.
A Celebration of Boomer’s Life will be held at Hope United Methodist Church in Joliet on a date to be determined. Interment will be private at Woodlawn Memorial Cemetery, Joliet.