December 14, 1934 – March 8, 2021
Resident of Mill Valley, CA
C. Richard (Dick) Crawford, age 86, passed from this life on Monday, March 8, 2021 at his home in Mill Valley, California.
Dick Crawford was born on December 14, 1934 in Ann Arbor, Michigan to Dorothy Gordon Crawford and C. Carroll Crawford. His family moved from Ann Arbor to Holland, Michigan where his father served as superintendent of Holland Public Schools from 1946-1951. It was in Holland that a chance encounter with local coach, Joe Moran, who after asking Dick and his brother Dale, if they had ever tried tennis, put rackets in both boys’ hands. Coach Moran’s invitation to a racquet sport changed Dick’s life forever.
From Holland, Dick’s family moved to Kalamazoo, Michigan. Dick graduated from Kalamazoo Central High School in June of 1953 where he played varsity football, basketball and tennis and was president of the senior class. He received a state board scholarship in tennis to Western Michigan University, and graduated in June 1957 with a degree in Business Administration. He played varsity football and tennis and was president of the freshman and sophomore classes. In 1960 he earned a secondary teaching certificate.
Dick was commissioned as a second lieutenant after completing the R.O.T.C. program and served in the U.S. Army from 1957 to 1959. At Fort Greely, Alaska, he served as Post Special Services Officer coordinating all the recreational activities including coaching football, basketball, tennis, and track.
From 1960 to 1963 Dick worked for the Parma Public School District in Parma, Ohio where he taught 7th and 8th grade math and coached 8th grade basketball. He taught economics and business at the high school and coached varsity tennis. In 1962 he served as the City Tennis Director for Parma. He returned to Michigan in 1963 to pursue graduate work in physical education at Western Michigan University and received his M.A. degree in June 1964.
Dick moved out to the San Francisco Bay Area to be an assistant football and tennis coach at Mountain View High School. In 1967 he joined the faculty of University of California Berkeley to teach tennis, squash, sailing and badminton. He had an incredible 27-year teaching career at UC Berkeley, having the opportunity to coach many fine young athletes and bring the squash program at Cal into the national limelight. Alan Fox, former President of the United States Squash Racquets Association (USSRA), said that “in 27 years of selfless service, no one had done more than Crawford to put California squash on the national map. He praised Crawford as a persuasive motivator, a tireless promoter, and a generous teacher of young people.” Some of those young people he coached who became great squash players include Floyd Svensson, Alex Eichmann, John Lau, Kris Surano, Jim Huebner, Paul Gessling, Ted Gross, Andre Naniche, Paul Kohler, Jay Prince, Todd Wersching, and Ashley Kayler. In 1969 Dick founded the Northern California Squash Racquets Association. In 2019, he was inducted into the inaugural Hall of Fame Class of Northern California Squash.
From 1969 onward, Dick spent summers touring Europe, Australia and New Zealand playing in international tennis tournaments, winning in more than fifteen countries, including about 25 tournaments in Switzerland alone. He was ranked in the top 10 in the world in the 55+ veterans’ tennis. Dick also ran a charter business called International Tennis Holidays, leading tennis expeditions through the majority of the European Union.
Dick retired from UC Berkeley in 1993 but was long remembered and loved by students he taught and players he coached. Described by Mike O’Neill, “he was a man of vision and selfless effort, Crawford took his teams sometimes to glory, but always to sport-to the true joy of hard work and to always giving everything they had. And by giving everything, his players had gained the world. He had made a great difference in their lives and what nobler achievement can there be? Coach Crawford will be missed, but there is a little bit of him in everyone he ever taught and the whole world can be thankful for that.”
He leaves behind a network of good friends all over the United States and the world, as well as family who will miss him dearly including his three nieces in Michigan, Marsha Crawford, Laura Crawford Speiran (Ross), and Alisa Crawford, great niece Rebecca Speiran, and great nephews Karl Norberg, Eric Speiran, Isaac Norberg, Charlie Stafford, and Alistair Crawford. Also, his sister-in-law, Shirley Crawford of Florida, with his brother Dale preceding him in death in 1986. Numerous step relations of the Wedel family of the Kalamazoo area are also remembered.
Private visitation will be held at Langeland Family Funeral Homes Burial & Cremation Services, 3926 S 9th St, Kalamazoo, MI 49009. Dick will be buried at Mt. Ever-Rest Memorial Park, South in Kalamazoo in a private ceremony. A memorial service will be held virtually. To view Dick’s personalized web page, please visit https://www.langelands.com
If you wish to donate in memory of Dick Crawford, he requested the following:
University of California Berkeley Men’s Tennis
115 Haas Pavilion
Berkeley, CA 94720
https://crowdfund.berkeley.edu/project/22720?path=athleticsdevelopment
MGAF – Men’s Tennis at Western Michigan University
WMU Advancement Office – Heritage Hall
1903 W. Michigan Ave.
Kalamazoo, MI 49008
https://athletics.wmualumni.org/give
Friends of Cal Squash
https://www.calsquash.org/donate