John F. Russell: The Crawfords
will be missed, and their contributions will last
By John F. Russell
Steamboat Springs — For the past 23 years, the name
Gary Crawford has held a special place on my contact
If I needed Nordic combined results, if I needed
to know what was happening in the sport or if a
local skier was competing almost anywhere in the
world, he was one of the guys I would call first.
And he was one of the first guys to call me.
He is a great advocate, a great promoter and a great
role model. When he loads up his car early next
month to travel to his new home in Florida, he will
be missed by many people, but his contributions
to our community will live for generations.
I can’t argue about his reasons for leaving — nobody
can — but I will miss his energy and dedication.
I’ve only met a few people who display his level
of love for the sport of Nordic combined and his
dedication to the athletes who pursue the sport.
For years, he has passed that on to the young ski
jumpers and Nordic combined athletes in our community.
I’ve spent many hours standing on the side of a
freezing-cold ski jump, and the guy's attitude always
is positive, his smile never fades.
But Gary was about more than Nordic combined, golf
I really can’t remember the details of the first
time I met Gary, but I’m pretty sure I was introduced
to him in the pro shop at the Sheraton golf course
(now Rollingstone Ranch Golf Club) where he worked
as an assistant professional while I was covering
a golf tournament. Later, I learned who he was.
I also learned that once you meet Gary, you never
again will be a stranger to him.
His warm personality, his inviting smile and his
awareness of other people represents the type of
character that has built this town’s reputation
around the world. I didn’t know his father well,
but I can’t image he was very different from Gary.
Gary’s personality is the kind that is passed down
from generation to generation, the type of personality
that is based on a strong desire to help other people,
to make the world a little better place to live.
In a couple of weeks, Gary and his wife, Kim, plan
to leave Steamboat. Kim is battling health problems,
and doctors think Florida’s warm climate and lower
altitude will improve her symptoms. Those who know
this terrific couple will be sad to see them leave,
but we are also hopeful that the doctors are right
and she will feel better — much better.
I will be pulling for them because they are great
people who made Steamboat Springs a better place
to live. They both contributed in their own ways
and made a difference that has reserved their legacy
in this corner of Northwest Colorado.
Because of that, Gary always will have a special
place on my contact list, and I always will look
forward to getting a call from him — even if it’s
just to say hello.
I hope the Crawfords will return to Steamboat Springs
someday, even if it’s just to visit. But more importantly,
I hope their journey will take them to a place where
they can experience the same joy they have brought
to our mountain valley.