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Crumley remembered as straight talker; Bethel board member honored as politician, stock car driver

By Fritz Mayer
June 5, 2012

The Mongaup Valley United Methodist Church overflowed with friends and relatives on June 1. They came to remember Richard Crumley, who passed away on May 27. Crumley had been the Town of Bethel Highway Superintendent, a town councilman, a noted stock car driver and the owner of Seven X Motors.

A theme that ran throughout remarks that were given was that Crumley was a “straight talker.” As his daughter Cathleen Crumley-Doherty said, as in the Frank Sinatra song, Crumley “did it his way,” and “you always knew where you stood with him.”

His son-in-law, Robert Doherty, called Crumley one of the most successful men he had ever known. He said, “You try putting your name on a ballot and run a used-car dealership at the same time.” Crumley won those elections.

Many of the speakers remarked on Crumley’s time in town politics, and that brought a lot of laughter. Alan Scott, a former supervisor of Bethel, said in the 1980s, when Crumley was the highway superintendent, some neighbors complained about the number of cars Crumley kept on his property.

Scott said, “He owned three separate parcels of property and, according to the code of the Town of Bethel, you were entitled to two unlicensed vehicles on each piece of property. Crumley reduced the number of cars on the property to six, and he decided they would look better if he turned two of the cars upside down. And then he sent the kids outside to paint them, the most atrocious colors possible.”

Dan Sturm, the current town supervisor, had sat next to Crumley on the town board since 2002. Sturm said, “A lot of times my hardest job was keeping a straight business-like face while Crumley spoke and made comments that no one else could hear. I learned early the way to get his support was to make sure the meeting was over by 9 p.m.; Dick got hungry by then.”

Jonathan Hyman, a land-use consultant who had become close to Crumley while dealing with town issues over the past seven years, said Crumley was well aware that sometimes he would make comments that might raise eyebrows. He said, “After a while, even at public meetings—and I always sit in the back—Dick would just wink at me from all the way across the room, and then I would know that the show was on. And when he put on a show, it was a pretty good show.”

Richard Crumley was 69 years old.