Panolian Editorial

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Dealing with what life dealt him, Crowder inspired

Robert Earl Crowder who died last week spent most of his 53 years amazing the people who knew him.

Crowder was born into this world with towering physical challenges. Most obvious was a tiny appendage in the place of a right arm and a left forearm foreshortened at the elbow. His left hand was also small and deformed, limiting his ability to grasp. Less obvious were displaced internal organs and a missing kidney.

Crowder survived to adulthood in defiance of those odds against him. He survived the compound discrimination that came with being both African-American and disabled. In the process of surviving, he inspired those who knew him, who watched him cope with the tasks that we consider mundane and everyday but made so difficult for him.

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He became effusive with praise for those who provided small steps of assistance. His criticism was limited for those who placed additional stumbling blocks in his path.

His one complaint was his inability to get Medicare benefits.

“ … I need Medicare to help with other medical needs,” he wrote in a letter to the editor last year. “According to the Social Security office, I do not qualify because I do not have quarters up on the system. I do believe this to be unfair because of my health problems and because I cannot work and will never be able to work. It seems I’m being penalized for something I have no control over,” Crowder continued.

“Kudos to Robert Crowder. He has always been an inspiration to Batesvillians,” Lezell Lester wrote in an online comment about a story published in this newspaper in 2007 about some of those small helps that he had found for those everyday tasks from Dr. Thomas Hodge, the Batesville Police Department and Roger Hartman at Cellular South.

“Robert, You are a living testimonial to the world,” wrote a former classmate, Peggy Lawson-Wimberly in another online comment following that story.

“Being disabled has not stopped you from being productive in society.”