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Robert "Wayne" Crawford

Robert "Wayne" Crawford Obituary
Robert "Wayne" Crawford, age 64, died at his home in Las Cruces on Saturday, March 12, following a long illness. He was born to Kenneth Eugene Crawford and Mary Mead Crawford October 19, 1946, in Oakwood, IL a small town in east-central Illinois, where he grew up. He attended Columbia College in Chicago and, while studying, worked as a pop music critic for the Chicago Daily News, and personal assistant to Harry Bouras, an internationally noted artist, critic and teacher and host of a weekly Chicago radio program on art criticism. After receiving his Bachelor's degree, he returned to his home town and taught high school journalism for 15 years, sponsoring the school newspaper, which won 10 first place awards, including the prestigious George H. Gallup Award. Wayne developed friendships with several of these students that lasted until his death. Many of his students contacted him to say how his direction was pivotal in their lives who are now heads of major companies and a Pulitzer Prize winning photojournalist. He married Barbara Rae Feldman_ in ___ with whom he had two children. He received a PhD in English Studies from Illinois State University, Normal, IL and was hired as Director of English Education at Western Illinois University, later serving as Director of Graduate Studies until he took a sabbatical leave in Las Cruces and decided to retire. Although he had earlier written criticism, journalism, and two novels, he now focused with great energy and enthusiasm on poetry, publishing poems in many journals, two books (Corner of Clark and Kent, 2004, and Sugar Trail, 2007), and a performance poetry/music CD, Oasis Bound, 2009, in conjunction with musician Randy Granger. In addition to writing his own poems and playing an active role in the literary open-mics, he promoted other poets' work through his on-line journal, Lunarosity, his co-editorship of Sin Fronteras Journal, and his membership on the Executive Board of the Dona Ana Arts Council. He founded new open-mics at The Bean Café and the Rio Grande Theater and organized many literary readings, including "Love of Lit," Poetry Day, and readings to complement Abraham Lincoln and Andy Warhol exhibits at the Las Cruces Museum of Art. Shortly before his cancer diagnosis and chemotherapy treatments he had completed a true crime, mystery novel and assembled volumes of his poems to publish. Mysteries were a favorite genre of writing especially the Agatha Christie and Sherlock Holmes series. He penned lyrics for the "Murder She Wrote" theme song which he intended to send to Angela Lansbury in appreciation. Wayne was an enthusiastic and generous supporter of poetry and poets and of all the arts. He particularly encouraged younger poets to write, read, and perform their poetry and enjoyed taking part in the student "poetry slams" at NMSU as much as the regular poetry readings at the various open-mics. Wayne loved all genres of music enthusiastically and collected hundreds of albums, tapes and CD's before discovering iTunes. He would sing enthusiastically while getting dressed considering it his daily affirmation. His philosophy was to always expect the best from people and situations and act as if something good was going to happen every day. Throughout his years in Las Cruces, Wayne battled health setbacks bouncing back each time with new energy and new poems. In the end, despite his partner Randy's tireless, loving care help from Mesilla Valley Hospice and friends, he could not overcome pancreatic cancer though his fight was extraordinary attesting to his spirit. His ex-wife Barbara followed him in death by ten days in Illinois. Wayne was a generous and witty person with many passions and limitless energy which made his poems moving, powerful and, many times humorous. Many of his poems referred to the dual identity of Superman and Clark Kent. He saw himself as being both, especially when he taught full-time, defended his PhD. Thesis while being diagnosed with painful Fibromyalgia. He enjoyed gardening, painting and hosting the Las Cruces Poetry Workshop at their home for several years. Wayne was also a loving father and grandfather and will be greatly missed by many. He is survived by his partner of ten years Randy Granger, his daughter Kimberly McCormick, of Bloomington, IL her husband, Mark McCormick, his son John Crawford, of El Paso, TX, partner, Melissa Mata, grandchildren Damon, Autumn and Alyssa, many cousins, former students, fellow artists, and friends. He was preceded in death by his Father and Mother and was an only child. His friends want to dedicate the First Friday open-mic at the Rio Grande Theater in April to Wayne. Anyone who wants to read a poem for Wayne, a poem of Wayne's, perform a song, reminisce about him, or, simply, listen is invited to attend, April 1 at 5:30. A full-length, multi-media celebration of Wayne's life and work is scheduled for 6:30 PM, Wednesday, April 27 at the Rio Grande Theater downtown Las Cruces. Email [email protected] or call 575-541-8073 to be included in this affirming celebration. In lieu of flowers it is requested donations be made to the Humane Society of Southern New Mexico at www.hssnm.org or by calling 575-523-8020 as Wayne was a compassionate animal person despite allergies to many pets.
Published in Las Cruces Sun-News on Mar. 26, 2011
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