Ralph "Sam" Crawford
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Ralph "Sam" Crawford passed away in Sky Lakes Medical Center in Klamath Falls, Ore., Feb. 3, 2014, surrounded by his family.
Ralph was born in DuBois, Neb., Aug. 2, 1933, to Edna Marie and William Crawford, the last of eight children.
In school, Ralph was a basketball letterman and earned the nicknames of "Perry" and "Jazz" for his glee club prowess.
After high school, Ralph worked two years hand-trucking fuses in a munitions plant before he decided that flying sounded like more fun. He enlisted in the Air Force in 1953 and became a B-29 radio operator for the 420th Refueling Squadron based in Sculthorpe, England. In the Air Force, he took on a new and permanent nickname based on a popular baseball player "Sam" Crawford.
While stationed overseas, Sam adventured in England, Italy, France and North Africa. He also met a pretty Norwich girl named Joanie Thorpe in England and was smart enough to marry her. Three months later, the newlyweds transferred to a new, exotic locale, Tucson, Ariz.
Over the course of a 20-year Air Force career, Sam and Joanie lived all over the U.S., adding four children to their family along the way. Sam learned guidance systems maintenance and became one of the first IBM computer operators in the early 1960s when he had to actually crawl into computers to fix them. A transfer to Kingsley Field brought them to Klamath Falls, where the Crawfords would settle down after Sam's military retirement in 1973.
Sam became involved in real estate sales toward the end of his Air Force career and in the late 1973 he co-founded Paddock Real Estate Company. After many successful years as a broker, Sam retired from real estate in 1988.
Sam was a valued and well-known member of the Klamath Falls community. He was a devoted parishioner and head usher and volunteer at First United Methodist Church. Locals knew him because they served with him on base or he sold them a home or saw him across the bar, bartending and managing the Veterans of Foreign Wars. Maybe they spotted him on his daily jogs in the 30 years he ran the Vern Owen bike path near Oregon Institute of Technology (OIT) with a series of small dog cohorts (his children amusedly accepted that Mitzi and Gizzy were their adopted siblings). He cheered at games for Klamath Union High School football, OIT basketball and American Legion baseball. He was twice pictured in the paper; he was simply That Guy around town, the busy one with the perfect silver coif, ready with a smile and a handshake.
Sam is survived by his wife, Joan; daughter, Susan Varga (Pete); son, Thom Crawford (Kym); daughter, Tracy Rhodes (Bill); grandchildren, Josh, Lindsay, Andrew and Lucas; great-grandson, Hunter; sisters, Lola Flider, Dorothy Arick and Belva Steiner, as well as numerous nieces and nephews.
He was preceded in death by his mother, Edna; father, William; son, Mark Crawford (who passed away October 2013); brothers, Charles, Clayton "Jack" and Harry, and sister Donna.
Please sign the online guest book at www.heraldandnews.com/obituaries.
Published in Herald And News on Feb. 8, 2014