Edgar Crocker, 81, sailor, entrepreneur, educator


More content on a ship’s deck than in a boardroom or classroom, Edgar Crocker decided after retiring to create a learning experience that combined his passions for education and the sea.

Using experience and connections from 35 years at Cambridge Trust Co., Mr. Crocker helped raise money to buy and restore the tall ship Picton Castle. Novice crews train during world voyages aboard the vessel, which drops off school materials and other supplies in farflung ports.

He also was the director and a founder of Worldwise Education, which promotes fund-raising programs for educators by selling greeting cards featuring artwork created by children.


“Edgar never retired; Edgar worked up until his final days,’’ said Charles Paul, chief executive and cofounder of Worldwise Education, who added that “whatever we needed in resources to help grow the business, he would offer help.’’

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Mr. Crocker, who lived in the Chestnut Hill section of Newton for 54 years, died of a stroke Feb. 2 in Brigham and Women’s Hospital. He was 81.

He was a founder and former chairman of Windward Isles Sailing Ship Co. and raised money to renovate the Picton Castle, a 179-foot-long barque. People pay to live on board for a few weeks to several months, learning on the job how to be crewmembers. Though their age range is wide, most are younger than 35.

“I wanted to give something back,’’ Mr. Crocker told the Boston Business Journal in 2000. “I build entrepreneurs, and I happen to believe in young people, so I bought the Picton Castle.’’

A three-masted tall ship with a home port in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia, the Picton Castle was built in 1928 as a fishing trawler and was used by England’s Royal Navy as a minesweeping vessel during World War II, according to the company’s website.


“If he believed in something, he was going to see it through or fall off the mountain trying,’’ said Dan Moreland, captain of the Picton Castle, who knew Mr. Crocker for almost 20 years as a friend and shipmate.

The Picton Castle also brings educational materials to island ports. The materials “made such a big difference to them that we thought it had the makings of a business,’’ said Paul, who met Mr. Crocker in the Kingdom of Tonga.

As a result, the two men and Paul’s wife, Katherine Pham-Paul, created Worldwise Education.

“He was a very compassionate person,’’ Charles Paul said. “He was very concerned. He thought in big pictures and big ideas.’’

Born in Boston, Mr. Crocker grew up in Milton and, as a boy, developed a passion for sailing during summers in Manchester-by-the-Sea.


In 1949, he graduated from Milton Academy. Four years later, he graduated from Trinity College in Hartford with a bachelor’s degree in history and economics.

Education and working in banking were not always easy, though. Mr. Crocker told the Boston Business Journal in 2000 that because he had dyslexia, simply reading a balance sheet could pose a challenge, and though he helped develop a computer system at the bank, he did not own a computer.

Sailing, on the other hand, was part of his ancestry and his youth.

His mother had been in the forefront of women sailing and racing in Manchester-by-the-Sea and Marblehead.

While Mr. Crocker was in high school and college, he worked aboard fishing boats during the summer, off the Canadian coast of Labrador and Newfoundland.

“I rode about among the giant ice cubes and gigged for cod in the fog,’’ he told the Boston Business Journal.

He also served in the US Navy Reserve in South Weymouth.

After college, Mr. Crocker moved to Boston and worked in the corporate trust department at the Second National Bank of Boston, which became State Street Bank.

He then worked for 3M Co. and moved to New Jersey. While at 3M, he attended the Stonier Graduate School of Banking at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, N.J.

In late 1956, Mr. Crocker moved to Chestnut Hill with his wife, the former Josephine Sturgis, and soon went to work for Cambridge Trust.

The couple had been married 50 years when she died in 2007.

Rising from an entry-level position to senior vice president and trust officer, Mr. Crocker worked for Cambridge Trust from 1957 until retiring in 1992.

In that time, he helped oversee development of an online trust computer accounting system.

“He really enjoyed learning about the high tech start-ups and the industry,’’ said his daughter Heather Crocker Faris of Watertown.

“He really enjoyed thinking about the future. But mostly he really enjoyed people.’’

Long before becoming involved with the Picton Castle, Mr. Crocker sailed the Crocodile, a Concordia yawl his family owned for decades. In 2010, he took his last journey on the Crocodile, sailing from Manchester to the St. John River in New Brunswick with his companion, Naomi Woolf.

“He spent a lifetime sailing and cruising from here all the way up to Halifax and the St. John River, really, all over the world,’’ his daughter said.

In addition to Woolf and his daughter, Mr. Crocker leaves another daughter, Edith of Barnard, Vt.; a son, Haskell of Topsfield; a sister, Augusta Stewart of Sudbury; a brother, Robert of Cambridge; and five grandchildren.

A service for Mr. Crocker will be held at 11 a.m. today in the Church of the Redeemer in Newton.

Mr. Crocker was a director or adviser to several computer hardware and software start-up companies in Canada and New England. “He got excited about how technology would change the lives of business people,’’ said his daughter.

“He thought a lot about the future, about what was going to happen. I think he had a good gut instinct about those things.’’

Michele Richinick can be reached at