M. Gene Crawford of Brookville passed away at his home with his loving family on Saturday, Sept. 14, 2013 at the age of 84.
The third youngest of eight children, Gene was born on Dec. 30, 1928, to Boyd E. and B. Irene (Fritz) Crawford of Oakridge, Pa.
A graduate of New Bethlehem High School, he was a talented scholar-athlete who excelled at football and baseball and was elected president of his class.
After graduating in 1946, he worked for Hanley Brick Company in Summerville, the Pennsylvania Railroad in Pittsburgh, and General Electric in Erie before enlisting in the US Army on March 15, 1951.
On Oct. 11, 1951, he married Jacquelyn Chaney of Distant, Pa., before being shipped overseas with Occupation Forces.
During his time in Germany, he achieved the rank of Staff Sergeant while serving in the 43rd Infantry Division, 192nd Field Artillery Battalion and the 5th Infantry Division, 599th Field Artillery Battalion.
Upon his return to the states and his honorable discharge, he and Jackie moved north to Brookville to find work.
Jackie, an R.N., went to work at the Brookville Hospital, while Gene found a job working for Bill Fleming doing carpentry work.
He quickly established himself as a gifted home builder and cabinetmaker, and he earned a reputation for high-quality, meticulous workmanship.
His work can still be seen in dozens of homes, businesses and places of worship throughout the community.
In 1969, he became the first carpentry instructor at the Jefferson County DuBois Area Vocational-Technical School (Jeff Tech) in Reynoldsville.
Upon his retirement in 1993, he became the Vo-Tech's first, last and only carpentry instructor.
He studied at Clarion State College, Indiana University of Pennsylvania, the University of Pittsburgh and Pennsylvania State University, earning multiple certifications along the way, before earning his master’s equivalency from Penn State.
Gene served as the technical consultant in a series of instructional videos produced by Penn State, and was selected to serve on an elite three-person commission that developed course materials for the Bureau of Vocational Education, Pennsylvania Department of Education.
That effort culminated in what was once considered the seminal textbook on Vo-Tech carpentry instruction.
More importantly, like all good teachers, he touched the lives of hundreds of students, teaching them a trade and motivating them to reach their full potential.
As a testament to his efforts, his former students often visited Gene to share their stories of success, and this gave him great joy.
Gene was a member and former board member of the First United Methodist Church.
He also served for more than 25 years with the Lions Club. He teamed with Jackie as MYF leaders in the '70s; was Cub Master for Pack 64, where he was recognized by the BSA Bucktail Council for exceptional service; coached Little League baseball teams and served as an officer for many years; played outfield and pitched for the New Bethlehem Newbies, New Bethlehem Firemen, and Brookville Grays during the ‘40s, '50s and early '60s; and bowled in the Gateway league through the mid-‘60s.
An active community volunteer, Gene’s contributions were acknowledged in the Jeffersonian Democrat, dated April 4, 1985: “Gene Crawford, an instructor at Jeff Tech in Reynoldsville, does more good deeds around the community than many people know about. If there is building work to be done as a public service, Gene is always right there, volunteering his services …”
An avid gardener and golfer and a devoted Pittsburgh Pirates fan, Gene loved to spend time with his wife, Jackie, their children and grandchildren, and their friends from Jefferson St., N. Pickering St. and beyond.
He is survived by Jackie, his wife of 62 years; sons Mike (Patty) of Oakland, Ore., and Tom (Tracey) of Ellicott City, Md.; grandchildren Maggie Crawford and husband Hans of Wilsonville, Ore., Tyler Renner and wife Robyn of University Place, Wash., Alex Crawford of San Francisco, Calif., and Tim, Sean and Casey Crawford of Ellicott City, Md.; brothers Bob Crawford of Indiana, Boyd Crawford, Jr. of New Bethlehem, and Max
Crawford of Poland, Ohio; and dozens of nieces and nephews.
His kindness, generosity, and warm smile will live on in the hearts of everyone who ever met this wonderful person.
He was preceded in death by his parents; his sister, Carolyn Brown; and his brothers, Darl, Don and Dale Crawford.
Friends will be received from 2 to 4 and 7 to 9 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 18, 2013, at Brenda D. Shumaker Funeral Home, Inc., Brookville.
A funeral service will be held at 11 a.m. Thursday, Sept. 19, 2013, at the First United Methodist Church in Brookville.
Interment will follow at Brookville Cemetery.
The family wishes to thank all the wonderful friends who offered assistance during his illness, the skilled doctors and nurses who cared for him at DRMC and UPMC, and the compassionate hospice personnel who took care of him during his final days.
In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to the Brookville First United Methodist Church or the Rebecca M. Arthurs Memorial Library.