Sunday, July 13, 2003
STEPHEN RAND CRAWFORD
STEPHEN RAND CRAWFORD, an avid
bluegrass musician who masqueraded as a corporate
banker for 25 years before fulfilling a life-long dream
of becoming a forester, died Monday, July 7, 2003, at
Abington Memorial Hospital, Abington, of complications
related to a degenerative illness. He was 57.
As large in spirit as in stature,
Mr. Crawford earned a reputation among family and
friends for doing things like riding his bicycle the 29
miles from his Hatboro home to his office in center
Seemingly impervious to cold
weather, a television news crew filmed him walking
through a snowstorm in temperatures of six degrees
below zero, wearing nothing heavier than a suit jacket.
With an appetite for life and
over-sized sandwiches, Mr. Crawford was an avid
outdoorsman who could out-walk, out-bike, out-last and
out-eat anyone he ever met. He worked as a volunteer in
the blacksmithing shop at Hopewell Furnace, cycled
through Great Britain, backpacked in Canada, and led
his family on rigorous camping trips to national and
In addition, he was a serious
Eagles fan, who was in no way connected with the
disappearance of player Pete Retzlaff's jersey from the
Eagles locker room in 1965.
He joined Provident National Bank
in 1968, where he worked in many areas including
private banking and corporate lending.
During his tenure there, he
enjoyed bucking conventional lending wisdom. In an
industry where restaurant loans are unheard of, Mr.
Crawford approved the funds that allowed restauranteur
Steve Poses to open The Commissary, one of the leaders
in the Philadelphia restaurant renaissance of the mid
1970s. "He could use his overwhelming personality to
get an institution like the bank to follow his own
interest in unusual loan projects," said Don Shauger, a
longtime banking associate and personal friend. He also
provided personal investment advice for a number of
His sincerity, intelligence and
dedication to helping others achieve their goals earned
him a sterling reputation and many friends within the
Born in Germantown, Mr. Crawford
grew up in Horsham, graduating from Hatboro-Horsham
High School in 1963. He received a degree in economics
from Ursinus College in 1967, and later pursued
graduate work at Simon Frasier University in Vancouver,
A resident of Hatboro for 28
years, he and his wife KAREN also maintained a home.
"The Little House," in the Kishacoquillas Valley of
Central Pennsylvania, where he loved to spend free time
hunting pheasant with his dog, Mickey, hiking,
fly-fishing and going on long bicycle rides.
Described by family as "the
original tree hugger," he became a hero in certain
cicles when he left banking in 1993 to pursue a
master's degree in forestry at Penn State's University
Park campus. He took a job as state forester for Bucks
and Montgomery counties with the Pennsylvania
Department of Conservation and Natural Resources in
1998, a position he held until illness forced him to
retire in 2000.
Though his illness left him
wheelchair bound, he continued to work for the
conservation of Pennsylvania forests and trees.
Caregiver Andrea Brunhofer, a
fellow nature lover, helped him remain active with
forestry issues by taking him to wooded areas, pushing
the wheelchair through the forested floors. Most
recently, he led a campaign to prevent the clearing of
160 trees in the Bonnet Lane neighborhood of Hatboro.
He had a great love of music,
which he shared with his wife and children and would
frequently break out into an impromptu version of "Let
It Snow." He was perhaps happiest playing guitar and
singing and played in a number of bluegrass bands such
as "The Sounds of Bluegrass," "The Northeast Extension"
and "The Haycock Mountain Rainbow Chasers" with his
son, STEVE JR. and good friend, George DeRemer.
Mr. Crawford also had a lifelong
enthusiasm for learning and educated himself on a
variety of topics ranging from Zen Buddhism to
field-training hunting dogs to medical research related
to his disease. Given the chance, he would quiz anyone
within earshot about the various types of birds, trees
and rocks at hand.
He started the Philadelphia MSA
(Multiple System Atrophy) support group, the first of
its kind in the region, which provided support and
information for victims of the disease, their family
A memorial service will be held at
11 a.m. Saturday, July 19, at Schuylkill Center for
Environmental Education, 8480 Hagy's Mill Road,
Please dress comfortably.
In lieu of flowers, memorial
contributions may be made to Center for
Neurodegenerative Disease Research, Attn: Gayle Viale,
Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, Third Floor
Maloney Building, 3600 Spruce St., Philadelphia, PA