Dr. Edward “Crosby” Tompkins, 80, of Grand Haven, Michigan, died early Sunday morning, February 23, 2020, at the Warner Center for Caring in Fernandina Beach, Florida. Crosby’s death came on the heels of a courageous fight to recover from a stroke that he suffered early last year.
Crosby was born May 23, 1939, in Rushville, Indiana, wearing a pair of Wrangler jeans, to Charles and Jean Tompkins. Crosby grew up in the nearby metropolis of Milroy, Indiana, where he attended and graduated from Milroy High School. It was in Milroy where Crosby is believed to have first uttered the phrase, “I reckon” in his classic southern drawl.
Crosby then attended Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana, where he received his undergraduate degree in animal science, a master’s degree, and finally a Ph.D. in animal reproductive physiology, with a minor in pharmacology and statistics. He was a member of Phi Sigma Kappa, where he mastered the art of the 12-ounce curl.
Crosby’s first job came as a researcher for the Reynolds Tobacco Company in Winston Salem, North Carolina, where the United States Patent and Trademark Office granted him a patent for a solution used to treat respiratory depression. Crosby held that position until the company decided that it could not prove that cigarettes did not cause cancer and canceled all research on the subject.
Crosby subsequently enjoyed a brilliant career in the field of pharmacology and toxicology. He served as a toxicologist for Bristol, Myers Squibb in Evansville, Indiana; a researcher for Toxicity Research Lab in Muskegon, Michigan; and as vice president for Wil Research Laboratories in Ashland, Ohio.
In 1996, Crosby moved back to Grand Haven, Michigan, where he partnered with Dr. Bob Boyd to form Northern Biomedical Research Inc., a company committed to aiding the development of cutting-edge products to help in the fight against disease, including Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and countless others. Crosby retired from NBR in 2006.
Crosby loved nature and guns, and was a generous philanthropist in these particular areas. He was a lifetime member of the National Rifle Association and the National Audubon Society, as well as a member of the Nature Conservancy, the Land Conservancy of West Michigan, and a volunteer for the Ottawa County Parks and Recreation Department.
Crosby was a deeply spiritual man, most recently attending the United Methodist Church of the Dunes, where he also volunteered and engaged in group Bible study. He enjoyed any conversation that attempted to reconcile two of his passions: science with religion.
Crosby was an avid outdoorsman. He loved to hunt. He loved to fish. He loved birds. He loved looking at birds, reading about birds, talking about birds, and sometimes even talking to birds. He made moonshine in a copper still that he kept in the garage. He made homemade Kahlua. He would check his own blood pressure while he listened to bluegrass music on an old record player. He was tough, smart, funny, generous and kind. A once-in-a-lifetime friend that will be missed by everyone who had the privilege of knowing him.
Crosby was blessed with three beautiful daughters: Rebecca (Scott Estes) Tompkins of Albuquerque, New Mexico, Pamela Tompkins of Albuquerque, and Katie (Nick) Gudelsky of Grand Haven, who survive and to whom Crosby passed on his kindness and his love and appreciation for nature, history and country music.
He is also survived by his loving wife and travel companion, Dianna Lombardo, whom he married December 28, 2006; his grandchildren: Lillie and Lola Estes, and Eden and Cora Gudelsky; step-children, Jake (Kristyn) Lombardo of Rockford and Megan (Andy) White of Ashland, Ohio; step-grandchildren: Ruger, Danner and Case White, and Luke and Amaya Lombardo; his first wife, Evangeline Luhn of North Muskegon; the Bob Jackman family of Milroy, Indiana; the Eickhoff family of Evansville, Indiana; his sister-in-law and brother-in-law, Debbie and Doug Walter of Port Clinton, Ohio; mother-in-law, Effie Smith of Ashland, Ohio; father-in-law, Charles (Laura) Wolford of Greenwich, Ohio; cousins, nieces, neighbors and lifelong friends.
He was preceded in death by his parents, Charles and Jean Tompkins; brother, Mark Tompkins; and his second wife, Shirley Tompkins.
A memorial service will be held March 10, 2020, at 3 p.m. at United Methodist Church of the Dunes, 717 Sheldon Road, Grand Haven, Michigan. The Rev. Lou Grettenberger will officiate. A celebration of life will follow at 4 p.m. at Porto Bello Restaurant, 41 Washington Ave., Grand Haven, Michigan.
Snyder Funeral Home of Mansfield, Ohio, is honored to serve Crosby’s family. Share a message of support with them online at: https://www.snyder funeralhomes.com/obituary/dr-edward-crosby-tompkins/.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the Ottawa County Parks and Recreation Department, www.miottawa.org/parks/donate.htm.