Former Raleigh Councilman Dies From Cancer at 58

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A number of residents throughout Raleigh's District D neighborhoods left their porch lights on Tuesday night.

James Borden / Raleigh Public Record

A number of residents throughout Raleigh’s District D neighborhoods left their porch lights on Tuesday night.

The porchlights are being left on in District D tonight, as residents honor the passing of their former city councilman Thomas Crowder.

Crowder, 58, died in his home Tuesday afternoon following a year-and-half long battle with testicular cancer.

In September, Crowder announced in a city council meeting that he had “exhausted all his options” for treatment of his cancer, and requested that his wife, Kay, be appointed to serve the remainder of his term should he find himself unable to do so.

Several of the councilors were visibly upset at Crowder’s announcement, including Russ Stephenson.

“The city of Raleigh has benefited so much from his visionary thinking of what we could be as a city,” Stephenson said.

“Again, we never thought cancer would get the best of you, we’re really sad and our prayers are with you.”

“It’s going to be difficult to not have that driving force here at the table with us,” he added.

Crowder thanked Stephenson for his words, but noted, “Don’t count me out yet.”

Less than three weeks later, he officially resigned his position.

Helping the City Grow Right
Crowder served as the city council representative for Raleigh’s District D since his first election in 2003. Prior to that, he was on the city’s planning commission for two terms, where he came to be known as “Mr. No” for often casting the lone dissenting vote against a development project.

In his role as a city councilman, he worked tirelessly to protect the interests of all members of his district, going to bat for them even when it was unpopular, as when Crowder came out in opposition of food trucks. Crowder also did everything he could to ensure that the city’s growth would be managed responsibly, and not at the cost of existing residents and neighborhoods.

He drew on his experience as an architect to study the plans submitted for new development, and made sure they adhered to existing regulations. As an architect, Crowder started his own firm, ARCHITEKTUR in 1993. The company worked on a wide range of jobs, from commercial to office to residential.

A Path Forward
When Crowder asked city council to appoint his wife to his position, he told them,

“Kay has been much more than my life partner – she and I have discussed most major decisions I’ve made for the city I love.”

“She shares my perspectives on the programs, initiatives and vision for the citizens of southwest Raleigh.”

Mayor Nancy McFarlane said at the time that she had been “shocked and saddened” to hear the news.

“I’ve enjoyed working with you on the council for many years and before that. We have a long history, and I think your suggestion of asking us to consider Kay to take your place is a good one,” McFarlane said.

“I’ve also known Kay for a very long time, and as you said, she might be a little easier to work with,” she joked.

“I can guarantee that she’s not quite the blunt instrument that I am,” Crowder replied.

At that same meeting, Crowder went on went on to thank  his fellow Councilors, neighborhood leaders, CAC chairs, the city staff, the denizens of District D and all of those with whom he had shared a love “for southwest Raleigh and the Capital City – these are citizens who appreciate the rich history and the progress we have made over the past decade.”

Most of all, Crowder said he wanted to thank his wife and children for “allowing me the time to serve our beloved city.”

“It has been one of my most humbling and rewarding life experiences. Citizens of District D and Raleigh – thank you for allowing me the privilege to serve you.”

Councilman Thomas Crowder

Former Councilman Thomas Crowder

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