The story below is from our September/October 2015 issue. For the DIGITALLY ENHANCED VERSION, download our FREE iOS app or view our digital edition for FREE today!
Junius Crowgey is no longer a tri-athlete, but he’s still quite active at 91.
When Dr. Junius Crowgey appeared on The Roanoker’s November 1985 cover, it was as “A ‘Super’ Man” which rhymes pretty closely with “Superman,” something many thought him to be. This 61-year-old tri-athlete was the very picture of conditioning, and Greg Vaughn’s color photos inside bore that out in a literal sense. Editor Kurt Rheinheimer, who wrote the story, recently called Crowgey “my hero.”
That year, Crowgey was one of a meager 21 people to finish the difficult 72-mile Star City Triathlon (biking, running, swimming) and was one of but four participants who took part in the previous two events. He was a serious runner, one who kept at it for years after reaching an age when many are resting their aftermarket joints in comfy rocking chairs. He also regularly rode his bike 100 miles on Saturdays.
He was 91 in August and quit running nine years ago when he had a heart attack “that blind-sided me” that would have had little damage had it been treated in time.
“I’d still be running,” he says. But alas, delays left him with congestive heart failure and he resigned himself to walking his regular 2.5-mile course near his home, close to Lewis-Gale Hospital.
It is a woodsy home he’s lived in 40 years and one that was built the year he was born. He has been married to Mary Beth, his second wife, for 20 years and he is 23 years older than she.
“I had not intended to be married again,” he says, smiling and glancing at his attractive spouse. Together they have three sons (his), three daughters (hers) and nine grandkids (theirs).
Crowgey has been retired since he was 70 and he basically went out kicking and screaming.
“I should have had another 10 years” of practice as an ophthalmologist, he says, but a consulting firm his medical group hired set a mandatory retirement age and he had to comply. “I was too young to retire,” he grouses.
He is hardly a frail old man and he says, “I miss the dickens out of” running. And through all his many years of high-level athleticism, Crowgey has retained all his original-equipment joints in an age when replacement is routine.
He and Mary Beth have concentrated over the years on planting trees, being responsible for 12,000 so far (including 3,000 that they planted with their own hands).
How to live long? Know what’s in your genes and pay attention to what your body’s telling you. And, yes, watch the diet and pursue the exercise. All simple stuff, at least for Superman and Junius Crowgey.