Edward S. Croft, Jr., age 93, died peacefully on January 3, 2010. Known as “Big Ed” all of his life, this 12-pound baby was born in St. Joseph’s Infirmary in downtown Atlanta, Georgia, on March 18, 1916, to the late Honorable Edward S. Croft and Mary Crosswell Croft. After their Atlanta residence was dynamited as part of a firebreak in the Great Atlanta Fire in May 1917, his parents took him and the family silver back to his father’s home town of Aiken, South Carolina. At Aiken High School, he was Salutatorian of his Senior Class, Captain of the football team, and at age 16, the youngest graduate in his class. At age 12, he launched his business career by delivering newspapers, rising at 4 a.m. and riding 15 miles on his bike before school. By his Senior year, in the depth of the Depression, he was very proud to have earned enough money from his paper route to fund a new bathroom in their home. Following a long Croft tradition, he enrolled as a cadet at The Citadel, the Military College of South Carolina in Charleston, where he majored in Physics and Electrical Engineering, taking advantage of his exceptional abilities in math. As the largest cadet at the school, he starred as a tackle on the football team. Graduating in 1936, at the age of 20, he headed to Washington, DC for any job he could find and then on to New York City in 1937 to learn the investment business with the First Boston Corporation. After a full day of work on Wall Street, Big Ed pursued his MBA degree at New York University from 5:00 to 7:00, worked out at the YMCA from 7:00 to 9:00, and courted his future bride, Irene Gabrey Weston of Columbia, SC, from 9:00 until he caught (or missed) the last bus to cross Central Park. They were married in March 1941, three months after he entered the Army for a one year tour of active duty. The bombing of Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, and the entry of the U.S. into World War II extended that tour by almost four years. He served overseas as an officer in anti-aircraft operations with the Sixth Army in Australia, New Guinea and the Phillipines. As part of General MacArthur’s “island hopping” strategy, he participated in numerous amphibious invasions. Major Croft’s decorations included the Bronze Star, Purple Heart, Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal with Arrow Head device and four service stars, and the Philippine Liberation Medal. After the war, he returned to First Boston’s office in Washington, DC as office manager. In 1949, he moved to Atlanta to begin a 28-year investment career with The Robinson-Humphrey Company, where, with his considerable financial intellect, work ethic and people skills, he became a perennial top producer. Some of his colleagues called him the firm’s “largest producer”, to which he would jokingly but proudly reply, “Yep. 6’3″, 255!” He always put his customers’ interests first, setting the highest standard for integrity, and adhered to the principle that “your word was your bond.” The respect for his abilities and leadership led to his promotion to Vice-Chairman of the firm, where he functioned until his retirement in 1977. Over the years, former colleagues and clients have stayed in touch with this man, who represented the best in a mentor and advisor. His main hobbies were working out with weights, which he continued to do past the age of 90, and socializing with friends and family. He particularly enjoyed family gatherings with his brothers, Crosswell and John, at “Cottage Rest”, the 1886-era family cabin in Cedar Mountain, NC, and at Eaton’s Ranch in Wolf, WY. Besides being devoted to his family, he had a strong sense of commitment to his church, community and college. At the Cathedral of St. Philip, he was a long time member of the Chapter and served as Treasurer for 24 years and as Senior Warden three times. In 1957, he was recognized as the WSB-TV “Citizen of the Week” when, while alone one night in the Treasurer’s office, he courageously confronted, tackled and thwarted three burglars who intended to steal from the church. Mr. Croft was a tireless supporter of the YMCA as well as the Atlanta Arts Alliance, the Atlanta Symphony, the United Way and the High Museum of Art. For his over 20 years of service as the Treasurer and a Board member of both Canterbury Court and Cathedral Towers, he was named the “Trustee of the Year” in 2001 by the Georgia Association of Homes and Services for the Aging. For his “exceptional dedication and sustained loyalty to The Citadel, and his noteworthy accomplishments which reflected favorably upon his alma mater”, The Citadel bestowed upon him in 1989 The Palmetto Medal Award, the highest honor (next to an honorary degree) the school can give. His club affiliations included the Piedmont Driving Club, Capital City Club, The Commerce Club and the Homosassa Fishing Club. He is survived by his beloved wife of 68 years, and by five children and their spouses: Ed and Susan Croft of Atlanta; Irene Croft, Jr. and Jamie Lee of Kailua-Kona, HI; Laurie and Susan Croft of Richmond, VA; Weston and Ouida Croft of Atlanta; and Greg and Mary Croft Ferguson of Atlanta. A daughter, Sarah Crosswell Croft, died in 1993. As their “Pop,” he was an inspiration to his 11 grandchildren (Stockton, Gabrey, Sudie, McMahon, Marshall, Tucker, Carrington, Sadler, Weston, Cox and Mary Elizabeth) and eight great grandchildren (Addie, Ward, Wicker, Edward, Cabell, Teddy, Lilli and Fielding). Family and friends cherish the memory of this exceptional, larger-than-life man who unceasingly served his God, family, community and country. Big Ed leaves a giant footprint in his lasting legacy of good works, living his oft-quoted measure of a good citizen, “Plow back into the earth more than you take from it.” Visitation will be Wednesday, January 6, from 5 to 7 p.m. at Patterson’s Spring Hill. The funeral service will be held on Thursday, January 7, at 10 a.m. at The Cathedral of St. Philip, 2744 Peachtree Road, Atlanta. The family will receive friends one hour prior in the Gould Room. Burial will take place at 1 p.m. at St. Thaddeus Episcopal Church in Aiken, SC, on Friday, January 8. Because of his long-time interest in supporting institutions that helped young people become the leaders of tomorrow, the family requests that, in lieu of flowers, memorial donations be made to the Carl E. Sanders Family YMCA at Buckhead, 1160 Moores Mill Road, NW, Atlanta, GA 30327, or the Croft Family Scholarship Fund (which was established in memory of his daughter Sarah) at The Westminster Schools, 1424 West Paces Ferry Rd., NW, Atlanta, GA 30327, or The Edward S. Croft, Jr. ’36 Citadel Leadership Scholarship Fund, c/o The Citadel Foundation, 171 Moultrie Street, Charleston, SC 29409. Visit our guestbook at www.postandcourier.com/deaths. Tags: 1936

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