James Clifton Crain of Roxborough Park passed away the morning of December 9th, surrounded by his family. Jim was born January 23, 1946 to Evelyn McDonald Crain, a nurse, and Clifton Elmo Crain, a railroad engineer, in Albuquerque, New Mexico. He was raised by his parents in Winslow, Arizona and by his grandparents and aunts and uncles in Boone, Iowa. Jim graduated from Ames High School in 1964 and attended and graduated from Iowa State University in 1968 with a degree in History and a minor in Political Science and a minor in Economics. Jim met the love of his life, Carol Cage at Iowa State University, a "cute blonde" who at the time worked for one of his professors. He told her after three dates they would marry (she thought he was nuts). The two married nine months later in 1968 just before joining the Peace Corps. During their time in the Peace Corps, Jim and Carol worked in San Felipe and Quetzaltenango, Guatemala where Carol taught public health and Jim managed the "School to School" program, which, through a combination of in-kind donations and sweat equity, built 13 primary schools in those rural communities. Before leaving the program, Jim also developed a pathway for funding that helped build 30 additional schools that has had a lasting legacy on several generations of students in the area. Jim and Carol returned to the United States in 1971 with one of their greatest gifts, their daughter, Patti. After the Peace Corps, Jim attended the University of New Mexico and graduated in 1972 with a master's degree in Public Administration. It is there he began his life as a public servant. Early in his career, preservation of land was Jim's primary goal. His value of natural spaces and good stewardship of the environment stemmed from the very holistic way his grandparents farmed in Iowa. They viewed themselves as stewards of the land, not owners. Jim began his career with the City of Albuquerque in 1972 where he purchased land for open space, easements and parks. In 1977 the family moved to Colorado where Jim took a similar position for the City of Lakewood. In 1979, Jim was named the Open Space Director for the City of Boulder, a position he held for 23 years. During his tenure in Boulder, he and his team increased the number of acres of protected land from 9,200 to 34,100 for public use; to preserve and restore habitat for wildlife and native plant species, and to preserve land and water resources. He grew the department from a staff of 4 to 75 and helped develop the funding to preserve open land around Boulder for generations to come. Boulder's iconic landscape would not be what it is today without his efforts. Jim's legacy to the community will be enjoyed for generations. As an example of Jim's work, and recognition by the community, a plaque commemorating Jim's contribution to land conservation efforts in Boulder County was erected and states, "Jim Crain, as director of the City of Boulder Open Space and Mountain Parks Department from 1979-2002, worked to preserve the natural history and scenic beauty of the mountains and plains of Colorado's Front Range. The land in front of you - the Coal Creek Drainage, the high plains grasslands and the Front Range foothills - are a lasting legacy of the contributions made by Jim Crain to protecting undeveloped open space as an inheritance for future generations." Jim also worked to preserve land in the Estes Park Valley. He helped found the Estes Valley Land Trust in 1987 and worked with his colleagues to obtain easements and preserve habitat in the community of Estes Park. Jim received many awards during his career, including the 1992 Niwot Award, 2000 and 2001 Colorado Coalition of Land Trusts Award of Excellence, 2002 Land Conservation Award from Boulder County and the Blue Grama Award from the Colorado Open Space Alliance for "Outstanding Individual Achievement" in 2007. Jim loved nature, history, politics and people and was known as good friend to many. Most of all, Jim loved his family. He is survived by his wife of 50 years, Carol; daughters Patti Crain Lorman and Amy Crain; granddaughters Robin Chadwick, Reese Chadwick and Sophia Lorman; and sister Jean Hutchings. He is preceded in death by his parents. Jim was adored by his family who will miss his hugs, cooking, sage advice and most of all his unconditional love. Services will be held at the Boulder Public Library, Canyon Theatre, on Saturday Dec. 22nd at 11am. Space for the service is limited. An open house with light refreshments will follow from 12pm to 2pm at the St. Julien Hotel (across from the library) for all who would like to celebrate Jim's life. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Estes Valley Land Trust at PO Box 663, Estes Park, CO 80517; email: EVLT@EVLandtrust.org.
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Published in The Daily Camera on Dec. 14, 2018.