Published May 7, 2021
MELROSE — Arlene Marie Kelley Crowley was born in Dorchester on November 24, 1933 to William Kelley and Eileen Meehan Kelley. She considered herself a “Melrose girl” in her heart as that is where spent most of her life and raised her family.
Arl had a never-ending capacity for kindness and love, not just for her children and husband, but for all who knew her. She always had a smile on her face, loved a good laugh (as well as a Cosmo), always had time for those who needed to talk and when her focus was on you, you felt like you were the only person in her world. She loved meeting new people, she put strangers at ease instantly, she was always more concerned about others than herself and was very protective of children, especially those with special needs.
In her teens, Arl worked after school for her dad who owned Kelley’s Ice Cream on West Wyoming Ave in Melrose. As a true New Englander her love of ice cream was never seasonal. In 1949, her parents bought the Loydon Inn in Dennisport where she worked summers there for the next several years. For the rest of her life, Cape Cod would always be her happy place. She was a graduate of St Mary’s High School in Melrose and had an associate degree from Katherine Gibbs school in Boston.
Arl met the love of her life, and eventual husband John Crowley, on New Year’s Eve 1952 at a party her brother Bill hosted at their family home in Melrose. They were married at St. Mary’s Church on November 12, 1955. They would go on to have five children over the next 10 years and share 46 years of marriage, until his death in 2002.
Arl’s greatest joy in life was her children and being a mother. She made it look effortless. She seemed to have an infinite supply of patience. Nothing phased her. No matter how many trips to the ER with one of the kids, or hosting seeming endless family parties for her children’s milestones, she was always calm and graceful. She always had on an “outfit”, hair done, jewelry and as her daughters will attest, she was never without her lipstick – a trait she passed on to them. She was the neighborhood mom that every kid loved because she was always welcoming and kind.
While raising her family, Arl also kept busy with many other activities. She was a founding member and past president of Melrose Sharing and Caring, an organization founded to help children with special needs. She would work tirelessly every year promoting their annual fund-raising fashion show. She and John were Presidents of the parents’ organization at Our Lady of Nazareth Academy in Wakefield where her daughters went to school. She was actively involved in Malden Catholic High School where her sons attended. She loved her job as a special needs teacher’s assistant for the Melrose school system and had a special bond with the late Connie Pinto with whom she taught and thought of as another daughter.
Arl was the beloved wife of John Francis Crowley Jr. She is survived by her five children Kathleen Crowley and partner Bob Carr of Andover, Eileen Crowley-Sofka and her husband Richard of Maynard, John Francis Crowley III and his fiancée Whitney Coviello of Denver, Colorado, Joseph Crowley and his wife Corrin of Bolton, and Michael Crowley of Acton. She was the adored grandmother of Corey, Katie, Hannah, Walker, Maggie, Kate, Jack, Grace and Brent. She was the dear sister of her brothers William Kelley and his late wife Mary Frances formerly of Melrose and Donald Kelley and his wife Marilyn of Florida. She was the cherished sister-in-law of Margaret Crowley Fitzgerald and her husband William of Orleans and Patricia Crowley of Dover. She was the loving aunt to 16 nieces and nephews, including Donald Kelley Jr. and Timothy Fitzgerald with whom she is now reunited in heaven. She was the good friend to so many through the years and shared especially close bonds with the Tighes, the Folgers, The Cobinos, The Sofkas and most recently the Jordans.
Arl touched so many lives and always for the better. The parents of one her students once gave her a mug that that read: “The world would be a better place if there were more people like you in it.” How true.
Visiting hours will be held on May 9, 2021 from 3-7 p.m. at the Gately Funeral Home, 79 W. Foster St., Melrose. Family and friends will gather for her funeral procession at Gately Funeral Home starting at 9 a.m. on Monday, May 10, followed by a 10 a.m. funeral mass at Incarnation Church, 425 Upham St., Melrose. Interment at Wyoming Cemetery, Melrose. Relatives and friends are respectfully invited to attend.