OSAGE CITY — James Thomas “Jim” Crawford Sr., McLouth, died Wednesday, June 22, 2022, at Osage Nursing Center, Osage City. He was 74.
He born July 4, 1947, in Winchester, to Tom and Alma (Smith) Crawford, Valley Falls. Jim graduated from Valley Falls High School in 1964, and then attended Kansas State Teachers College (KSTC, now ESU), where he earned a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration. He was a member of the KSTC Track and Field team, where he threw the discus.
Jim met Beverly Ann Butts in Oxford, while attending KSTC, and they married in 1968. They later divorced. They had two children, Carolyn Kay Lang (Mike), Perry, and James Thomas “JT” Crawford Jr. (Amy), Reading. In 1990, Jim married Janet Scherer, Kansas City, in McLouth. She survives of the home.
Jim worked for the Internal Revenue Service and the Kansas Fish and Game, and volunteered at many charitable organizations. He had many talents and interests. As a lifelong sports enthusiast, he could be seen throwing discus, kicking field goals, shooting baskets and hitting baseballs in his free time. He competed in the discus for 25 years in track meets, and even qualified to throw in the Masters Olympics in Florida. He went on to coach local throwers in discus and helped coach his children’s baseball and softball teams.
His love for sports extended into writing. He wrote and illustrated a football rules book and also wrote poetry. His poem “The Toe,” about a kicker, resides in the Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio, and “Discobolus,” Greek for discus thrower, is in the National Track and Field Hall of Fame in New York City. Jim’s greatest literary work was “1955,” a long story-poem about his favorite team, the Brooklyn Dodgers, and their journey to win their first World Series against their crosstown rivals, the New York Yankees. “1955” was accepted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y., and he received a lifetime membership. A short documentary film called “1955: Seven Days in Fall,” which Jim narrated, was based on his poem. The film received some awards and aired multiple times on ESPN and public television.
Jim’s art wasn’t limited to just drawing and writing. He built scale models of historic subjects from wood. Detailed wagons, airplanes, ships and other items were meticulously crafted and given to his son to use as teaching tools in his history classes. Jim was an accomplished guitarist and had a very eclectic taste in music. His first love was 1960s surf instrumentals, but he dabbled in classical, folk and rock guitar.
He loved being in the outdoors. He hunted upland game birds and waterfowl. He enjoyed fishing with his children and grandchildren, Claire, Reid and Greta, and was always in search of the big catfish. He hunted morel mushrooms every spring, and took his secret spots to the grave.
Jim loved life and lived it to its fullest. He enjoyed telling jokes and recalling stories about the past. He dearly loved his family and friends. He was a truly unique and talented individual, and will be greatly missed.
He is survived by his wife, children, grandchildren, and sisters, Judie Moore (Bob) and Joan Crawford.
The family will greet friends from 5 to 7 p.m. Wednesday, June 29, at Mercer Funeral Home, Valley Falls. A private family burial will follow at the Valley Falls Cemetery.
Memorial contributions may be made to the James T. Crawford Memorial Fund (to be designated to the Performance Sports Track and Field Youth Throwing Academy in Reading) and sent in care of Mercer Funeral Home, P.O. Box 6, Valley Falls, KS 66088.
Condolences may be left at MercerFuneralHomes.com.