My father…

…made me who I am: thinking for myself, appreciating engineering and science but also literature and music, believing that ethics come from within and that we need to treat other people well because we’re all in this together, not because some giant shaking finger in the sky will smite us otherwise. (My father was also, always, a strong, active, supportive church member, even president of the Modesto Council of Churches for some time as lay leader of his church…that’s a different issue. My brother called him a “James Christian.” Some of you will know what that means better than I do.)

…was reliable. If he said he’d do something, he did it.

…was head of a functional family. We grew up knowing we were loved. Not a lot of money (he was always a city employee, back when that meant, well, not getting a lot of money), but lots of what we needed.

…was always intellectually curious, reading, learning, discussing. Was also a woodworker, electrician, civil engineer (by trade), stamp collector, genealogy buff, photographer, and more.

…was married almost 60 years to my mother; then, a year or so after she died (when he was 88 or 89), married a 91-year-old widow in the church and had another first-rate marriage for more than 7 years before she died.

…was a mensch.

…had 97 good years and most of a 98th good year, albeit with more trouble getting around and some other problems. He died in his sleep, apparently without pain.

…was born November 30, 1908; died November 18, 2006; and had his life celebrated yesterday afternoon at First United Methodist Church in Modesto, in a service that he had a large part in designing and would have liked, even if it ran a little long.

No condolences required. He was a good man and a good father. He had a great run. I was reminded yesterday how much he meant to many parts of his community–the church, the Engineer’s Club, Y’s Men and the YMCA and the camp, Camp Jack Hazard, and more. I was reminded in some ways how relatively little I’ve done by comparison.–and, to be sure, how proud he was of what I have done.
If you’re interested, the obituary notice should still be available from the Modesto Bee:

Start here, go to the search box, enter “crawford” (I can’t link directly to the result); the name’s Charles Crawford.

13 Responses to “My father…”

  1. What an excellent tribute! It sounds like he had a wonderul life. Dads are the best!!!

  2. Fred Gertler says:

    This is a beautiful remembrance of a man who truly lived and loved life. Thank you for sharing.

  3. Angel says:

    That is so beautifully written. He clearly was a good man. Thanks for posting.

  4. walt says:

    Thanks, Fred. Thanks, Jennifer.

    I had avoided posting on this earlier because…well, Fred probably knows why. It’s not my thing. But the service provided closure of sorts; let’s say there was a lot of laughter and very few tears.

    [And, odd as it may seem to say so, after the last few weeks I’m actually looking forward to putting in a full week at work next week.]

  5. Mark says:

    I’d like to second the previous comments. And based on these comments (and others elsewhere), I’d say you have very passionate readers.

  6. Iris says:

    No condolences required, I know, but I offer my heartfelt empathy as you celebrate his life and as you look forward to living out the best of his qualities in the coming years.

  7. Steve Lawson says:

    Walt, as a son and a father myself, thank you for writing and posting this. I find it your account of your father’s life and his influence on you moving and inspiring.

    No condolences, then, but heartfelt best wishes.

  8. walt says:

    Thanks all. I really just tossed off that post this morning in ten minutes, but obviously I’ve been thinking about my father a little more than usual for the past three weeks. (Well, actually for the past year or three; we’d been visiting him much more often since his second wife died.)

  9. CW says:

    A lovely tribute, Walt. Thanks for sharing, and best wishes to you and all your loved ones.

  10. Elena says:


    Condolences offered (not required, you noted, but I hope still not unwelcome). My father died this year (the day before Father’s Day, for whatever irony that’s worth), and I know it’s a hard row even with the fullness and goodness of his life.

    Be well.

  11. Lovely tribute, Walt. I appreciate the opportunity learn about your father today.

  12. Condolences anyway, even if not required.