For their first date, Dr. Larry Crumbley ’63 and his future wife, Donna Loflin Crumbley ’63, took in the Fourth of July fireworks in Faith, N.C. This important event was the summer of 1962, before their senior year at Pfeiffer College, and they went out just once more before returning to the Misenheimer campus for the start of the fall semester. On that occasion, they dined at a Chinese restaurant in Charlotte.
Remarkably, this scenario speaks not to tentative beginnings but to a constant determination to have a relationship – despite some daunting challenges.
“Larry and I grew up poor,” said Donna, who’s originally from Salisbury, N.C. “We both had to work in the summertime, all the time. So, he didn’t have much time for dating, and I didn’t have much time for dating.”
Larry confirmed this, saying he often worked 10 hours a day during the summer before his senior year. One of his jobs was helping to build an Alcoa dam in Badin, N.C. The commute to get there from Kannapolis, N.C., his hometown, was 90 minutes. Sunday really was a day of rest because “I slept all day,” he said.
Larry, who just turned 80, studied business at Pfeiffer. He has taught accounting at several universities, principally Texas A&M University and Louisiana State University, where he earned a doctorate. He’s still teaching, having been appointed a Professor of Accounting on the RELLIS campus of Texas A&M University Corpus Christi. He has authored at least 325 articles and 65 books, including more than a dozen “educational” novels, which illuminate various accounting concepts through fiction. Away from the classroom, he and his wife also owned a real estate company. One of Larry’s teaching specialties is taxation, on which he also has written a series of bestselling textbooks. And since Donna worked for a time as a revenue agent at the IRS, he often tells his students, jokingly, that “I teach people how to cheat, and Donna catches them.”
Jokes aside, Larry didn’t achieve his professional status by chance.
“Larry’s parents told him that if he wanted a better life than they had, he’d better get an education,” she said. “He studied all the time.”
The only times Larry wasn’t studying were when he and Donna were eating, he was wrestling, or they were participating in student government (Larry was Student Body President and Donna served as President of the Women’s Student Government Association). But Donna found a way to surmount this challenge.
“In order to see Larry, I would have to go to the library and study also,” she said. “I probably made my best grades at Pfeiffer because I studied more than I had in any other previous year.”
As his aforementioned output indicates, Larry continued to work very hard when he became a professor. In 1972, he received Pfeiffer’s Distinguished Alumni Award, which honors excellence in one’s profession. In 2007, he received the LCPA Lifetime Achievement in Accounting Education Award.
Larry composes all his books and articles in longhand. And after Donna left the IRS, she became his editorial assistant, a position she shared with Larry’s students. Or, as Donna put it, “my job now is to type and be a grammarian for Larry. That’s why he married me.”
Actually, Donna can point to another job she’s done well, namely mothering their three daughters, Stacey, Dana and Heather. “I’m proud to say that they’re very independent, strong women who’ve done very well for themselves in everything from high school counseling to working in the corporate world,” she said.
Donna said that Larry will never stop working, and he said nothing in a recent interview to dispel that notion. But that doesn’t mean the couple has never made time in their schedules for relaxation. Indeed, Donna and Larry love to travel, and each one of them wants to add to the number of countries they’ve visited. For Donna, that’s about 100, and for Larry, it’s 140.
They’ve also found ways to give back. A gift from Larry and Donna in 2014 provided for major renovations of Room 200 in Pfeiffer’s Jane Freeman Hall. Improvements included advanced multimedia equipment to aid in teaching a wide variety of courses. The room was renamed the Dr. D. Larry (’63) and Donna Loflin (’63) Crumbley Lecture Hall in recognition of their support.
In 2014-15, Larry served as Executive in Residence for Pfeiffer’s accounting program, providing professional guidance and coaching to help faculty build a nationally-ranked accounting program.
“Pfeiffer gave us a great start in life,” Donna said. “We wanted to make sure future students enjoyed similar benefits.”