Arthur F. “Freddie” Crow, a retired IBM field engineer and railroad fan who enjoyed collecting and repairing clocks and railroad memorabilia, died July 9 of complications from Alzheimer’s disease at his Bethany Village retirement community home in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania. The former longtime Pikesville resident was 86.
Arthur Frederick Crow, son of Harry Crow, a Reading Co. railroad dispatcher, and Evelyn Crow, a registered nurse, was born and raised in Reading, Pennsylvania.
After graduating from Reading High School, Mr. Crow earned an associate degree in 1958 from what is now Pennsylvania State University Lehigh Valley in Allentown. He was immediately drafted into the Army and served as a radio operator stationed in Germany.
Mr. Crow went to work for IBM in 1955 as a field engineer and moved to Pikesville in 1960. He retired from IBM after a 36-year career in 1991.
Mr. Crow spent his retirement years doing the three things he enjoyed most: collecting and repairing antique clocks, collecting railroad memorabilia and train-watching He was a longtime, active member of the National Association of Watch & Clock Collectors and the Baltimore chapter of the National Railway Historical Society.
“He basically repaired and tinkered with antique clocks, and he liked collecting railroad station clocks like Seth Thomas and Howard regulators,” said a son, David Crow of Newville, Pennsylvania. “He and several other fellows cleaned and restored most of the antique clocks at the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad Museum. Dad also liked collecting mantel clocks and tinkering with time clocks that had been in offices and factories.”
According to a biographical profile submitted by his family: “He would occasionally be seen listening to and fixing a clock if he were at a neighbor’s house or even when out at a restaurant.”
Mr. Crow did his work in a basement workshop of his Pikesville home.
“Half of the basement was the workshop, while the other half was filled clocks and clock parts. It took us several days to clean it out because he was a pack rat,” his son said. “He had a small lathe, a drill press and a grinder. Sometimes, if he needed a bigger part made or repaired, I’d take it down to the Baltimore Streetcar Museum, where I was a member.”
Mr. Crow was a fan of Northeastern railroading, and his collection of railroad memorabilia, especially brakeman’s lanterns, reflected that.
“He had hand lanterns from the Reading, Western Maryland, B&O, Pennsylvania, Washington Terminal Co., C&O, Northern Central and the Central Railroad of New Jersey,” his son said. “He had well over 40 or 50 lanterns.”
Mr. Crow also had a set of kerosene marker lights, which were placed in brackets on the last car of a passenger train or caboose, and locomotives also carried marker lights.
“Dad had a pair of maker lights from a first generation diesel and electric cab signals from the Reading’s Bethlehem Branch, which required them,” his son said.
He also had cab signals from The Crusader, a daylight crack passenger train that operated between Philadelphia and Jersey City, as well as cab signals from the Reading’s Pacific class 4-6-2 high-speed steam engines.
As an active member of the National Railroad Historical Society’s Baltimore chapter, Mr. Crow had been the organization’s longtime treasurer, and when the chapter operated excursion trains, he assisted in the installation and removal of the public address system that featured the voice of veteran WCBM-AM Baltimore broadcaster and news director Ken Maylath, who was also a rail fan and chapter member.
Mr. Crow liked to spend time train watching with his family and father, who had retired from the Reading.
Several favorite locations included the Enola railroad yard on the western shore of the Susquehanna River near Harrisburg, which was built by the Pennsylvania Railroad in 1905. By 1956, it was the world’s largest railroad yard.
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Another favorite destination was the Cass Railroad Scenic State Park in Pocahontas County, West Virginia. The standard gauge railroad was built in 1901 by the West Virginia Pulp & Paper Co., reaching Bald Knob to haul lumber to the mill located in Cass. The railroad ceased operations in 1960 and became a state park in the 1970s.
Other pastimes of Mr. Crow’s, who moved to Mechanicsburg in 2011, included camping, sightseeing and traveling to visit family and friends.
“He liked going camping in places where there were no phones, so he wouldn’t have to take calls from the office,” his son said with a laugh.
He had been an active member and treasurer of Milford Mill United Methodist Church in Pikesville.
A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. July 30 at Burrier-Queen Funeral Home, 1212 E. Liberty Road, in Sykesville. Plans for a memorial service in the chapel at Bethany Village are incomplete.
In addition to his son, Mr. Crow is survived by his wife of 19 years, the former Dorothy E. Stabley, a bookkeeper; another son, Michael Crow of Reisterstown; a brother, Richard Crow of Mechanicsburg; two grandsons; and six nieces and nephews. His first wife of nearly 40 years, the former Ruth Fleshman, a bookkeeper, died in 1998.