Law School Mourns the Passing of Tom Crosby (June 3, 2013)
Thomas M. Crosby Jr., former chair, treasurer, and trustee of the Robina Foundation, died of pancreatic cancer on May 26, 2013, at age 74. Crosby was a long-time supporter of and advocate for the University of Minnesota Law School.
"Tom Crosby was a lawyer's lawyer, a wonderful community leader, and a great supporter of the Law School," said Dean David Wippman. "He has left a legacy of public interest here at the Law School, for non-profits and the community overall."
Crosby graduated from Yale University in 1960, served two years in the U.S. Navy as an officer aboard the USS Herbert J. Thomas, then returned to Yale and graduated from its law school in 1965. Soon thereafter, he began a 43-year career at Faegre & Benson (now Faegre Baker Daniels) in Minneapolis.
He became a partner in 1972 and later managing partner, headed the real estate group, chaired the management committee, and was a longtime director of the Faegre & Benson Foundation. His early practice in corporate law, public securities, and mergers and acquisitions led to a focus on shopping center development, finance, and leasing. In 1978, he oversaw one of the nation's largest real estate deals, worth $305 million at the time, when Dayton Hudson sold nine of its regional shopping centers.
After reaching Faegre & Benson's mandatory retirement age in 2008, Crosby opened a private practice with an emphasis on real estate, nonprofit organizations, and estate planning.
A lifelong resident of Medina, Minn., he was serving his third term as mayor, and donating his salary to a city internship program, when he stepped down in April to begin treatment for his illness.
When he was inducted into the Mpls. St. Paul Magazine Volunteer Hall of Fame in 2000, Crosby commented, "I grew up in a family where being involved in the community was very much a part of the fabric of our household." He continued that tradition, serving on and chairing the governing boards of numerous organizations and nonprofit foundations, including the Walker Art Center, Minnesota Orchestral Association, Abbott-Northwestern Hospital, and Blake School. He also upheld the family tradition of supporting United Way, serving for many years as a member and chair of the board of directors. His grandfather, John Crosby IV, was one of the first trustees of the Citizen's Aid Society, and his father, Thomas Manville Crosby, spearheaded the 1959 Community Chest fund drive (both organizations were forerunners of United Way).
In 2008 Crosby was honored with Faegre & Benson's John C. Benson Pro Bono Award for outstanding commitment, leadership, and support of pro bono legal service. He selected United Way to receive the monetary contribution to a nonprofit organization that accompanied the award.
"Crosby's work has shaped Faegre & Benson's firm-wide charitable giving policy, strengthened its public service culture and fueled several major pro bono and legal services initiatives to serve low-income clients," said the firm's online announcement.
The great-grandson of two renowned milling company originators, Charles A. Pillsbury (founder of the C.A. Pillsbury Company) and John Crosby III (a partner in Washburn Crosby Company, which became General Mills), Crosby delighted in working on his hobby farm. Every spring he tapped his 70 maple trees to make syrup using his own recipe, which won third place at the Minnesota State Fair one year.
Crosby is survived by his wife of 48 years, Ellie; sons Stewart, Brewster, and Grant; daughter Brooke Reed; and nine grandchildren.
In his role with The Robina Foundation, Crosby was active in supporting the foundation's exploration of transformative approaches to critical social issues and fund forward-thinking projects at major institutions, including the Law School. The Robina Foundation, created by James H. Binger (’41) shortly before his death in 2004, has made generous contributions to the Law School for faculty positions and research, a public interest scholars program, student scholarships, and the Robina Institute of Criminal Law and Criminal Justice. It recently made an additional gift of $9 million to augment the work of the Robina Institute and establish the University of Minnesota Law School Center for New Americans, a new immigration law center.
A memorial service celebrating Crosby's life will be held at the Guthrie Theater, Tuesday, June 11, 2013, at 4 p.m.