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Obituary: Zenas Crocker

Published in The Boston Globe on March 14, 2012

12th generation Cape-Codder, retired Executive and passionate golfer, died on March 12th in Vero Beach, Florida. He was 85.

Born in Boston, he attended elementary and High School in Barnstable where he was President of his Junior Class. He graduated from Chauncy Hall School of Boston. In 1944 he deferred enrollment at MIT and enlisted in the U.S. Army Specialized Training program. While attending Infantry Basic Training as a Private he was awarded the Expert Infantryman Medal. Assigned to Officer Candidate School in Ft. Benning, GA, he was commissioned as 2nd Lieutenant at age 18. He served as an Infantry Training Officer during his time in the military. He served for three years, discharged in 1946, then recalled, he served for two years during the Korean conflict ending in 1950.

Married twice, first to Susan Hand, who died in 2004, he is survived by his second wife, Carol Elliott Bennett. He always said he “was lucky in love twice!” He is also survived by his son, Zenas VII and daughter-in-law Susan of Boston; two daughters, Carol Sue Meagher of Centerville, MA and Sarah Crocker of Marshall, VA; three grandchildren; Zenas VIII, Katharine Crocker and Ashley Meagher. The pride of his life was his family.

In 1952, he received his BS in Business and Engineering from MIT and began his career in the Plastics industry at the Bakelite Division of Union Carbide. In 1960, he joined Nixon Baldwin Chemicals which was later sold to Tenneco Chemicals where he became President of the Nixon Division. In 1970, he became a partner in Carlew Chemicals in Montreal where he started a new vinyl sheet process for which he received several patents that are still in use today. The company went public as Synergistics Industries and was later acquired by Poly-One Industries.

Being a natural athlete, his youthful focus was on tennis and baseball. As a gifted dancer, he and his partner won Boston’s competitive Waltz Evening’s “Tops” final, a special memory of 1949. Prior to the onset of ALS he was likely to be found pursuing his love of golf at his home courses of Oyster Harbors in Osterville, MA or Riomar in Vero Beach, FL. In 1987, he was elected to membership in the U.S. Seniors Golf Association and he also enjoyed many years of competitive play at Plainfield Country Club in NJ, Mount Bruno Club in Montreal and at his winter home The Moorings Club in Vero Beach, Florida. He shot his age several times from 76 to 79, also shooting a hole-in-one three times. From 1996-1999, he was President of Oyster Harbors Club where he was instrumental in the drive to build a new club house as well as establishing a green environmental zone benefiting both the membership and the surrounding community.

The cause of death was phenomena brought on by complications of Lou Gehrig’s disease (ALS), a condition he had battled valiantly. A core of devoted nursing aides provided comfort, security and laughter for which we are truly grateful. Zee was known as “a man for all seasons”. He greeted life with a smile and didn’t let his failing condition sway his positive attitude. Important to him was the constant visiting of friends and their conversations. He was passionate about politics, sciences, golf, tennis and reading, but would listen with intensity to everyone. His deep wit and accommodating style served him well. As a true Gentleman, his love of life and interest in others stimulated his clear mind to the end. He was loved by all and will be sorely missed.

Visitation will be Friday, March 16th from 4-7pm in the John Lawrence Funeral Home, 3778 Falmouth Rd. (Rte. 28), MARSTONS MILLS, MA. A Memorial Service will be held Saturday, March 17th at 11am in the West Parish Church, 2049 Meetinghouse Way, West Barnstable, MA. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to: Compassionate Care ALS, P.O. Box 1052, West Falmouth, MA 02574 or For online guest book and directions, please visit