CRAWFORD

Kindly transcribed and submitted by Leslie Waidler

The Intelligencer

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 city Philadelphia.

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 state parks.

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 high-profile Philadelphians.

His sincerity, intelligence and dedication to helping others achieve their goals earned him a sterling reputation and many friends within the industry.

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, British Columbia.

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 and friends.

A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday, July 19, at Schuylkill Center for Environmental Education, 8480 Hagy's Mill Road, Philadelphia, PA. www.schuylkillcenter.org .

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 19104-4283.

 
 

 

 

 

 
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