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James “Jim” Cronin, 90 of Lakeville, MA passed away peacefully on December 26, 2023, at home with his beloved wife Mary at his side.
Jim was born to Edward and Anne Cronin in Horicon, NY. He spent much of his youth helping his father, mother, and two older siblings (Jack and Jane) run the General store that serviced the small, rural community. He attended both elementary and high school with no more than 3 other classmates in his grade; in his tongue-in-cheek style, he often bragged that he was the valedictorian of his high school graduation class. After high school, Jim attended Siena College in Albany, NY for one year and then transferred to the University of Vermont in Burlington to pursue a degree in Economics. He became a very active brother of the Delta Psi fraternity and eventually became the house’s social director in his junior year and then President his senior year. It was during one of the many social events between the school’s fraternities and sororities that Jim became enamored with Mary J Towne, who hailed from Morrisville, VT. Shortly after Jim graduated in 1955, he and Mary were married.
Jim began his first job out of school with the New York Life insurance company, kickstarting a very successful 50-plus year career in the insurance business. His first job location was a short stint in Buffalo, NY. When he joined the Aetna insurance company, he moved back to Burlington, VT. As he progressed rapidly up the executive levels, the promotions took him and the family to Avon, CT, then to Southampton, MA, then to Mattapoisett, MA, and finally to Lakeville, MA. From 1959 through 1967, while employed by Aetna in Burlington, VT, he served as an Army officer in the Vermont National Guard, where he rose to the rank of Captain. Jim definitely found his niche in the insurance business and never considered doing anything else. Most of his career was with the Aetna insurance company where he thrived. He enjoyed his time as a member of various business associations wherever he was working, two of which were the Rotary Club in Burlington and later as a board member and eventual President of the Old Colony YMCA in the Brockton, MA area. Jim’s last position with Aetna began in 1979 when he was appointed National Director of a newly created individual and family market called PRIME. He held this high-level executive position until he retired in 1993. Never one to slow down and rest on his laurels, he then worked for another 10 years with the CHUBB company to sell their insurance products to high-income clients.
Jim was an amazing husband, father, grandfather, uncle, role model, and friend. Everyone who knew Jim felt and appreciated his big heart, generous nature, and wonderful sense of humor. He loved telling stories (over and over again), particularly of his growing up years in the hamlet of Brant Lake, NY. Many of Jim’s greatest joys stemmed from Mary and his five children. Although too many to recount, a few that jump out are: camping trips both to the woods in Vermont and the beach in Maine, family tennis matches, riding and caring for the horses, learning how to drive, Mattapoisett Bay sailing (when we really did not know how to sail), taking a family trip south in the rented Winnebago, skiing (water and snow), and welcoming AFS student Leun Heng from Malaysia to live with the family for a year.
Jim’s was a life well lived. He will be remembered for his generous spirit that he shared with friends, colleagues, and family. He truly was always interested to learn about other’s life experiences. Always emotionally intelligent, he humbly believed that you could not really know or judge another without “walking in their moccasins”. This life perspective served him well throughout his life, particularly during his working years where he became a well-respected manager and mentor as he rose through numerous executive positions. He was a bright light in this world and will be deeply missed by many.
Jim is survived and missed by his loving wife Mary of 68 years; and his 5 children: Mark (Donna) of Leland, NC, Laurie (Dan) Artzerounian of Ponte Vedra, FL, Tim of Sandwich, MA, Claire (Jeff) Johnson of Lakeville, MA, and Bill (Brigite) of Rehoboth, MA; surrogate son Luen Heng Wong of Kuala Lampur, Malaysia; forever cherished and remembered by his 8 grandchildren: Derek, Chase, Steve, Bill, Krista, Andy, Tim, and Cameron, his great granddaughter Ellie; as well as numerous nieces, nephews, and dear friends. Jim will also be sorely missed by his loyal companion dog, Leo.
Jim was so happy to have a grand gathering of most of his extended family as well as some special friends for his 90th birthday bash that was celebrated at the LeBaron Hills Country Club in May. It was a wonderful celebration that meant so much to him as he knew that his remaining time was short. One could tell from the increase in the energy he displayed that he was back in his element and that he fully appreciated the opportunity to act as the master of ceremonies for his last birthday party.
Jim requested that there would be no calling hours or public service. Any memorial donations may be sent either to the Old Colony YMCA or the Cranberry Hospice (Plymouth, MA).
Old Colony YMCA
36 Cordage Park Circle, Plymouth MA 02360