Mariana ‘Vicki’ Crosier

Mariana ‘Vicki’ Crosier

Mariana ‘Vicki’ Crosier

BERNE — One of the foremost champions of organ donation, Mariana “Vicki” Crosier was a restless activist with a national profile, who raised a family of public servants by instilling in them her selfless character.

She died on Monday, March 1. She was 82. 

Mrs. Crosier grew up in Clarksville, the daughter of Thomas F. Wood, a railway worker, and his wife, Anna. When she was 17, she met Berne native John Crosier Jr. at a square dance and married him the same year. Together, they worked for Mr. Crosier’s parents, who ran a grocery store in town. Eventually, they took the business over and re-established it as the Village Pantry before later going into real estate.

“My mom and dad were married for 64 years, and they worked together for 64 years,” said their son, Kevin Crosier. 

The couple had four children, three sons and a daughter. One son, Kenneth, died at birth, and another, Kyle, died following an automobile accident outside the family’s home when he was 17. 

It was after Kyle’s fatal accident, which left him brain-dead, that Mrs. Crosier became passionate about organ donation. The family had decided to donate Kyle’s organs, which Kevin said was “virtually unheard of” at the time, and Mrs. Crosier used the experience to help other families in similar situations decide whether that was an option they would choose.

Mrs. Crosier was instrumental in the founding of a local chapter of Compassionate Friends, a not-for-profit organization that advocated for organ donation while also helping families more generally in their times of grief.

“Vicki loved butterflies, the symbol of hope that is also used in the transplant and donation community,” her family wrote in a tribute.

She also volunteered for the United Network of Organ Sharing, and was a member of the Family Donor Council Board for “many, many years,” said Kevin’s wife, Barbara Crosier. 

“Then she set up, through the Center for Donation and Transplant here in Albany, a group of mothers who went when there was a potential organ donor and met with the family, not necessarily to convince them to donate their organs, but to explain why they had donated the organs of their family members and what it had meant to them,” Mrs. Crosier said, “and to help [the families] make plane flights and funeral arrangements and sort of support them when they were in crisis.”

The group would eventually acquire a federal grant to assist members in their efforts, and named themselves Mothers of Organ Donors, also known as the MOD Squad, in reference to the popular 1960s TV show. Mrs. Crosier’s work drew national attention, and she was interviewed on Good Morning America, featured in  Woman’s Day magazine, and spoke at conferences across the country.

Barabara Crosier, who met Kevin in 1989, said that she first saw Mrs. Crosier when she and Kevin were in an Albany apartment, shortly after they began dating, and Mrs. Crosier appeared on the television, giving a press conference. 

Barbara Crosier said that when they later met face-to-face, her future mother-in-law was warm from the start and quickly made her feel like part of the family.

“I have a wonderful mother,” Barbara Crosier said, “but Vicki was a mother to many, many people. People always joke about mothers-in-law but she was wonderful and I was truly blessed ... She was very smart and involved in lots of things. But ultimately her family was very important to her. 

“She always took care of each of her grandkids on Mondays. Monday was her day. She made homemade birthday cakes and each grandchild had a different kind — some liked vanilla-vanilla, some liked chocolate-chocolate, but Grandma always made her special cake for everyone’s birthday.”

Mrs. Crosier’s passion for family and volunteerism resulted in her two surviving children both becoming public servants. Kevin Crosier was formerly Berne’s supervisor, while his sister, Karen, served on the Berne-Knox-Westerlo School Board. 

“We grew up pretty blessed in the household,” Kevin said. “My mom was a great mom of course … We all ended up in public service because mom instilled in us to give back to the community.” 

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Mariana Crosier is survived by her husband, John E. Crosier Jr; her son, Kevin Crosier, and Kevin’s wife, Barbara; her daughter Karen Storm, and Karen’s husband, Raymond; her grandson Justin Crosier, and Justin’s wife, Laurel; her granddaughter Claire Crosier; her granddaughter Amanda West, and Amanda’s husband, Ryan; her granddaughter Kristen Raffensperger, and Kristen’s husband, Scott; her granddaughter Nicole Storm; her granddaughter Michelle Miller, and Michelle’s husband, Rob; and eight great-grandchildren.

Her parents, two sons, and her brother, Charles Wood, died before her. 

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, services will be private. A public Celebration of Life is being planned this summer when it is safe to gather.

Memorial contributions may be made to Helderberg Ambulance Squad, at 978 Cole Hill Road, in East Berne, or Community Hospice Inn, at 315 South Manning Street, in Albany.

— Noah Zweifel

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