Robert Crafts, Jr.
May 4, 1935 - November 7, 2020
The Rev. Dr. Robert Crafts, Jr., Captain, MC-USN retired, called over and over again to the service of others throughout multiple careers, was called home on November 7 at the age of 85. A modern Renaissance man schooled in culture, language, music, history, science and faith, he devoted his many talents to enriching the lives of those around him. Crafts was born in Cleveland, Ohio in 1935. He attended Western Reserve Academy before matriculating at Yale University where he went on to complete an Intensive History major, graduating in 1957. He spent a 5th year at Yale to complete his pre-med requirements prior to attending medical school at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland. After receiving his medical degree in 1962, Crafts began his internship in internal medicine at Hartford Hospital in Connecticut. It was there, in 1963, that he met and married his wife, Carol, who was a nurse in the hospital. In 1964, he joined the US Navy Medical Corps and after stints in the submarine service aboard the nuclear-powered USS Abraham Lincoln and USS George Washington during which he made two POLARIS deterrent patrols, he completed his residency at UCSD and Balboa Naval Hospital San Diego where he became the ward medical officer of the Tuberculosis Treatment Center. He ultimately served the United States for 22 years including a deployment to Guam during the Vietnam War as the Medical Liaison Officer during Operation NEWLIFE, the urgent program to care for and oversee the evacuation of more than 111,000 refugees from Southeast Asia, an effort which earned him the Navy Commendation medal. His tours of duty included 3+ years in Yokosuka, Japan. He concluded his Navy career as the Chief of Internal Medicine at the Naval Hospital Camp Pendleton. In 1986, Crafts retired from the Navy to pursue a full-time masters in divinity from Nashotah House Episcopal Seminary in Wisconsin. He received his M.Div in 1989 and returned to the diocese of San Diego to oversee the congregation of St. John's parish in Indio where he served the diverse, desert community by delivering eucharistic services in both English and Spanish for nearly a decade. In 1998, he and Carol moved back to the City of San Diego where he continued to bring the love of Christ to countless more people, both as the head priest at St. Elizabeth's in Linda Vista and as the port chaplain for the Mission to Seafarers in downtown San Diego. It was in this latter role that he finally combined his commitment to Christ, a desire to connect with and serve others, a deep love of languages, the joy derived from sharing a good book, and his long naval experience into one purpose. He was also secretary of Convention for the Episcopal Diocese of San Diego for many years.Crafts was an avid reader, a quick-witted humorist with a ready laugh, and a great story-teller who drew upon his varied interests and experiences to provide an anecdote or historical reference for any occasion. In addition, he was a modestly skilled bagpiper who once traveled to Edinburgh to acquire his own set of pipes and served as the Chieftain of the San Diego Scottish Highland Games in 1976. From 2003-2018, he volunteered in the kindergarten and first-grade classes of the Dual Language Program at Valley Elementary School in Poway correcting scads of Spanish spelling tests, teaching a generation of youngsters to tie their shoes with military precision, and twice earning the school's Volunteer of the Year award.He was also an avid fan of the "Beautiful Game" playing on the Yale freshman soccer team, coaching his children's teams, being a certified FIFA referee and a fan of Liverpool FC for many years. Moreover, he was a fan of his family and spent countless hours on the sidelines of his children's and later his grandchildren's soccer, lacrosse, water polo, football, color guard, equestrian and aquatics matches in an ever-changing and always team-specific panoply of spirit wear. Whether called Abuelo by the school kids, Father by his parishioners, Doc by his patients, Cap'n by his subordinates, or Papapedia by his grandchildren, he cherished every role and looked forward to each encounter as an opportunity to learn, teach and laugh. Despite all of his own extraordinary accomplishments, however, it was in his role as husband, "Dad", "Papa" and "Harjie" where he truly shined as he reflected back onto his cherished wife, kids and grandkids a persistent warm glow of deep and abiding patriarchal pride.Crafts is preceded on this, his final journey, by two children and a grandchild and is survived by his wife of 57 years, two brothers, three children, seven grandchildren and a great-grandson. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, services are pending. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in the name of Robert Crafts, Jr. to seamenschurch.org
or to the sempervirens.org/robertcrafts
(in support of the restoration of the Robert Crafts Grove in the Big Basin Redwood State Park which was devastated by the 2020 CZU August Lightning Complex Fires).