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Friday, October 31 2014 @ 11:52 PM EDT

A Celebration of Mike Crowley

General

NELUG and the AFOL community lost a great friend and amazingly talented builder this week with the passing of our own Mike Crowley. Two wonderful tributes on FBTB and The Brothers Brick have been posted that capture Mike's life and contributions to the AFOL community. We'd like to capture here photos of Mike that we have in our personal libraries and individual stories about Mike as we remember him - the good-natured, sometimes goofy individual who enriched our lives and inspired our building as a member of NELUG. Please follow the 'read more' link below to read stories about Mike that members of NELUG have written (more will be posted as they are gathered).


The idea of writing your own tribute seems absurd, yet I cannot find a better way to characterize Mike other than with his own words. In June of 2009, Mike ran for a second term as NELUG's Ambassador. I've never forgotten it because I found the write-up of Mike on the application to be inspirational. Mike wrote it himself. It commanded a clarity and a quality of self-actualization that I could only hope to one day possess. Here is the excerpt:

Quote by: Mike Crowley

Mike became an AFOL in his mid twenties, his childhood passion for LEGO rekindled as he began the long recovery process following his four-year (victorious) struggle with cancer. Many factors made this a very pivotal time and provided the ideal conditions for a new and profound appreciation for creative expression and interpersonal connection. Mike is a very animated individual with a creative curiosity that is both insatiable and contagious. He has a unique ability to connect with and relate to people of all ages, counting himself a peer to both children and adults alike. He is not an engineer, an architect, a computer programmer, a hardcore gamer, or even so intense a science fiction or fantasy fan in comparison to many of his fellow AFOLs. Rather, Mike is simply someone who, through circumstance and self-discovery, has found strength and personal freedom in a hobby that has granted him so many new friendships and new ways to express himself artistically. He only hopes that he is somehow able to inspire others as much as he himself continues to be inspired daily by everyone he encounters throughout the LEGO community.

The application also needed to include three testimonials. These were written by Eric Kingsley, Bill Bourn and myself.

Testimonial 1 by: Eric Kingsley

Mike Crowley is one of the most creative builders I know. His skill in finding new and innovative ways to use the brick are truly bleeding edge. In addition to that Mike is dedicated to the community as a whole and has a lot to offer in that respect. He is friendly and always works well with others while offering his unique perspective on any number of subjects both related to LEGO and otherwise. NELUG (The New England LEGO Users Group) would be well served in having such a capable and deserving member represent us as a LEGO Ambassador.

Testimonial 2 by: Bill Bourn

Mike is well grounded in Lego construction and well tuned to popular culture. This makes his models instantly recognizable. they can be appreciated by AFOL and non-enthusiast alike. You will have to look far and wide to find a more energetic example of craftsmanship with the Lego medium. Since he thinks he can represent a large portion of the AFOL and LUG communities, I'm inclined to agree with him. I just hope his model building doesn't suffer from lack of attention. His is one of the very few update notices from Flickr to which I pay much attention. It's always a surprise and a delight to see what he's done "now."

Testimonial 3 by: Joe Comeau

Mike's personal struggles have left an indelible mark upon his outlook on life; Mike possess a unique view of the world that becomes instantly obvious through his amazing creations. Beyond that though, Mike is easy going, very well liked, respected throughout the club and fun to be around. While Mike's influence extends beyond the club, NELUG would be very well served having him as our representative, utilizing his truly unique perspective.

Just thought I would share.

Joe Comeau, January 2013

 

I remember first meeting Mike at the club meeting soon after we purchased our club trailer and packed all of the club assets into it. We were busy moving boxes when one of our members arrived, late, with a new face in tow. Tom announced, "Hey you guys, this is Count Blockula." Not sure whether he was going to start pulling tissues out of a box and start counting them (the Sesame Street reference is intentional), we all said hi, with some members commenting favorably about things that Mike had built and posted on-line. Soon after, we got Mike interested in participating in our train/city layout for an upcoming Greenberg show (although buildings and trains were not really his "thing" ). He committed to bringing a building and if he could get it done in time, something animated. Frantically rushing to be done in time, Mike set up a skyscraper complete with a Bionicle King Kong on top, whose arm moved to swat at a bi-plane that circled the building. This was March 2004, and to this day it was one of the most impressive things built out of LEGO I've ever seen.

The other wildly impressive creation of his was a Sesame Street scene for the LEGO retail store in Burlington that was on display in their Community Window. I was simply amazed at how easily recognizable he made all of the characters in so few bricks. This, and the transformable nature of many of his creations, is a hallmark of his style. He would regularly come to monthly meetings with a latest creation tucked away in a pocket or his backpack, and would happily show us all what he had built and how it could be twisted and turned to then be something else. This MOC is now featured on The Brothers Brick. Simply amazing.

From Oct. 2004 to Dec. 2006 NELUG, two Master Builders from The LEGO Group, and members of the public worked to build the Millyard Project. Located in the SEE Science Center in Manchester, NH, the Millyard is a 22'x95' permanent display depicting the mill buildings along the Merrimack River around 1900, built completely out of LEGO in minfig scale. This was, of course, the building opportunity of a lifetime for us (3 million bricks, working side-by-side with LEGO Master Builders), so Mike and I regularly carpooled together for the building events. I really enjoyed riding with Mike and talking to him about LEGO, Star Wars, and of course his family and life in Melrose. He cherished all of these things and loved sharing his enthusiasm whenever he could.

During the building events Mike took on, with joy and vigor, the job that we liked least; building the thousands of sub-assemblies and supervising the members of the public who volunteered to help. They couldn't build very well and the sub-assemblies were boring. But Mike loved the interactions with people, and built enthusiastically along side both young and old. Looking back on it now, we couldn't have built all those buildings as uniform and consistently as we did without the sub-assemblies, and in this way Mike had a hand in the creation of every single building there - something that none of the rest of us can claim.

In researching dates for this article I found Mike's first post to the NELUG forums. I think it pretty much sums up Mike and his infectious enthusiasm for life:

Topic: New LEGO Star Wars Game

alfredjr: There is also a PC version, for those interested. I almost bought it, but my wife said that I didn't need it.

Count Blockula: Well, technically, you don't need a wife, either; but you snagged yourself a little lady nonetheless. So, get the game, kiss your girl, and live happily ever after.

 

Mike Ripley, January 2013

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