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Lorenzo Crowell, Jr., long-time union trailblazer, succumbs to lengthy illness

One of northwest Indiana’s stalwart union leaders has passed. Lorenzo Crowell, Jr. who for years fought for and represented health care workers in multiple Midwestern states passed on Friday, May 10. For more than a year, he struggled with health issues before retiring the latter part of 2018. He was 65 years old.

The third child and only son born to Mr. and Mrs. Lorenzo Crowell, Sr., Lorenzo was a 1971 graduate of Roosevelt High School and briefly attended Indiana University Northwest. He accepted Christ at an early age and was baptized at First Baptist Church under the pastorate of Rev. Robert E. Penn, Sr.

“Lorenzo was more than my brother; he was one of my best friends,” noted his sister Kim Boyd. “He was an unselfishly kind person, and the type of individual who proudly represented his union brothers and sisters. His duty to the union came often before thinking of himself. Even when as small children our family decided to get a puppy, Lorenzo chose the runt of the litter.”

His genuine kindness was matched by his steadfast belief that America’s working men and women should earn a fair wage as well as benefits that were proportional to their labors.

“Lorenzo was the embodiment of what the labor movement should be about: from starting out as a rank and file member, Lorenzo’s tenacity and commitment to the labor movement is legendary,” said Greg Kelley, President of SEIU Health Care Illinois, Indiana, Missouri and Kansas. “From helping to merge the former 1199 into SEIU, to his steadfast support and love for our members, and his beloved GI, Lorenzo will be remembered as a strong champion for working people.

“But, more than all of that,” continued Kelley, “he will be remembered as a good man who fought for what was right. He will be sorely missed by us all.”

He was preceded in death by his parents, Lorenzo and Willie Mae Crowell, his eldest sister, Linda Baskin-Lewis, brother-in-law, Joe S. Lewis and his first nephew, Melvin Boyd Jr.

He is survived by his wife, Vanessa Crowell; two sisters Kim L. Boyd (Indianapolis), and Charlene Crowell (Raleigh, NC); nephew, Brion Boyd (Amy) and their six children: Brielle, Brion, Jr., Dallas, Kinley, Kyren, and Ryder; two special life-long friends who he considered as brothers, Gregory Carr and Michael Bennett; Bernita Drayton, a long-time union colleague and friend; and a host of cousins, other relatives and friends.

Funeral services are scheduled for Friday, May 17 at 11:30 a.m. at Trinity United Church, 1267 West 20th Avenue in Gary.

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