Eddie Crone, a Tybee original

Tybee recently lost one of our Tybee Citizens. Eddie Crone was someone who loved Tybee. He loved living here, he loved being part of the community and he cared about keeping Tybee the unique and special place it’s always been. While I may not have supported him as a political candiate, I always admired him for speaking his mind, no matter where the chips fell. And all of us on the island, no matter if he was our candiate ornot, loved seeing the bigger then life size “waving Eddie” come election time. Waving Eddie appeared all over the island.

This is the obituary that appeared recently in the Savannah paper. Donataions in his memorary can be made to the Tybee Island American Legion ( call them @ 912 786 5356. Thank you Eddie for your years of service and for caring about the island and her people. We honor your memorary.

“As a Tybee Island City Councilman, Ralph “Eddie” Crone was known to walk out of a meeting in sheer disgust when proceedings rubbed against his no-nonsense style.

But he was also a tireless champion of the island, its people and its history. On Friday, that’s what friends and fellow islanders remembered most as they mourned him.

Crone, 70, died early Friday at Hospice Savannah Inc. after battling cancer most of last year.

“He had a big heart, which I don’t think a lot of people saw,” Mayor Jason Buelterman said. “He got a lot accomplished for Tybee, and he’ll be sorely missed.”

Crone served three terms on council from 2003 to 2009 and also headed the council’s infrastructure committee. His most enduring contribution may be one of historical preservation.

Cullen Chambers, executive director of the Tybee Island Historical Society, said the restoration of the 1906 Fort Screven Guard House wouldn’t have happened without Crone’s involvement.
Every morning without fail Mr. Crone was down there checking on the progress of that project,” Chambers said. “It wasn’t just about the history. It had a lot of personal value to people in the community. Eddie more than anyone recognized that.”

Like the Guard House, Chambers said, Crone was unpretentious, solid and reliable.

“He is the last of a breed,” Chambers said. “You got the real deal with Eddie Crone.”

Tybee Councilman Paul Young was elected the same year as Crone, but his environmental activism put him at the opposite end of the spectrum of Crone’s strong personal property rights position. Despite their differing philosophies, Crone often gave his unused travel and training budget funds to Wolff. In 2008, it was Crone’s $1,000 that allowed Wolff to attend training with the Institute for Georgia Environmental Leadership, and last year, Crone passed along $600 so Wolff could represent Tybee as a member of the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives.

“Some of the things that really helped us move forward as an island are due to his generosity,” Wolff said.

Day in and day out, most on the island didn’t know Crone as a politician. They knew him as the morning cashier behind the counter at Chu’s on U.S. 80. While he may have reveled in presenting himself as cantankerous and opinionated, many found a generous, fun-loving side, too.
Lisa Butler knew Crone for almost 40 years, and in the past nine worked with him at Chu’s, where she is the manager. As a retired shipping industry manager, Crone didn’t need to work, she said, but he opened without fail.

“This man worked seven days a week and opened the store every day for nine years,” she said.

“The store opens at 5 a.m., but he would get there at 3:15 a.m. to open early for special customers.

“The man is truly an icon of Tybee,” she said. “He’s going to be very missed.”