Howard P. Crowell of Sandwich, who was born and lived his whole life on Crow Farm, which he ran for more than 65 years, died February 1 at the age of 96.
He was the husband of Judith (Roncarati) Crowell, who died in July 2019. They were married for 59 years.
For more than a century the family farm, founded in 1916 by his father, David Crowell, and uncle, Lincoln Crowell, has supplied residents with fruits and vegetables, pies and breads, and flowers. Much of the produce and other items were sold at a roadside farm stand along Route 6A that was built in 1960 until it closed last summer; the former stand his father opened in the 1930s was near the old center of town.
During an Enterprise interview in 2000, Mr. Crowell said that at 75, he could retire, but he loves what he does. “My father never pushed me into farming. I would never push one of my kids, and I know none of them would push theirs,” he said. Still, he hoped that one of them would continue the family tradition and also love farming. “Maybe it’s in the blood. We’ll see,” he said.
Mr. Crowell said machinery had made the work of farming much easier, and that while some might say farming is too reliant on weather, it is easier to accept the fact that everything happens in its time. “Things we are doing today, we should have been doing last week. But we’ll catch up. I’ve learned how to deal with the weather, and I don’t panic,” he said.
With the population of Cape Cod growing rapidly in the mid-1980s the family decided to grow and sell plants and flowers to supply the demand for these items. “The greenhouses are full three to four months a year,” Mr. Crowell said. “Right now, the colors radiating out of them are phenomenal.”
By the time news coverage of the 100th anniversary of Crow Farm was featured 16 years later, Mr. Crowell’s son, Paul E. Crowell, was running the farm’s 50 acres, with his wife and a sister also a part of the operation; all sharing the same enthusiasm as Howard Crowell for the family farm and the integrity of their products. Paul Crowell said his exposure to the farming lifestyle from a young age along with seeing his father work the fields gave him the inspiration to continue the trade.
Aside from the farming business, Mr. Crowell, who had the nickname Fizzy, was the fire chief in Sandwich back when it was a volunteer department. The volunteers fought many forest fires in and around Otis Air Force Base. Mr. Crowell helped design the old fire station on Route 6A in Sandwich and even built the weather vane atop the building.
His time away from Sandwich was spent traveling. Mr. Crowell had skied all over the world—from New Zealand to North America—and made more than 20 trips to Europe. His favorite places were Sugarloaf in Maine and Zermatt in Switzerland. An avid outdoorsman, he also loved to hunt and fish in Maine.
Mr. Crowell was a member of the Sandwich School Committee in the 1970s and he had also served on the board of directors of the Sandwich Co-Operative Bank.
He leaves three children, Lynn Smolinsky and her husband, Steve Smolinsky, Paul E. Crowell and his wife, Ellen J. Crowell, and Jean L. Fenton and her husband, David A. Fenton; grandchildren Steve Smolinsky, Dan Smolinsky, Jason Crowell, Adam Fenton and Ben Fenton; two step-grandchildren, Joe Ford and Amy Ford; three great-grandchildren, Hunter Crowell, Aubre Smolinsky and Colin Smolinsky; two sisters, Carolyn Crowell and Eleanor C. Winslow; and other family.
In addition to his wife, he was predeceased by his grandson Nathan Crowell.
Burial will be private.