Funeral Mass celebrated in Streator for Fr. Crawford, 95, diocese’s oldest priest
STREATOR — A funeral Mass was offered at St. Michael the Archangel Church here on June 7 for Father Richard Crawford, a senior priest of the Diocese of Peoria and former pastor of faith communities in Budd and Cornell.
Father Crawford, a native of Streator, died on June 3, 2016, at the Flanagan Rehabilitation Center. He was 95, and the diocese’s oldest priest.
Bishop Daniel R. Jenky, CSC, was principal celebrant of the funeral Mass. The homilist was Msgr. Philip Halfacre, vicar of the Ottawa Vicariate, who remembered Father Crawford as a “happy priest” with a strong devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary.
A late vocation — he was ordained in 1975 at age 54 — Father Crawford “did tremendous good through his fidelity and generosity,” said Msgr. Halfacre. The full text of the funeral homily is found here.
Burial was in Hillcrest Memorial Park, Streator, with full military rites accorded by members of the Leslie G. Woods American Legion Post 217 and the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1492.
SERVED IN WORLD WAR II
Born April 27, 1921, in Streator to Francis and Veronica (Yuhas) Crawford, he attended Wilson Public School and St. Anthony Grade School as well as Woodland High School, all in Streator.
Prior to beginning his studies for the priesthood, he also attended Amundsen Mayfair Junior College in Chicago and served two stints of military service — in the U.S. Army Air Force during World War II (1942 to 1946) and later in the U.S. Army (1958 to 1961). Among his occupations before priesthood were as a barber and as a guard at the Pontiac prison.
His seminary studies took place at St. Mary’s College in St. Mary’s, Kentucky; Sacred Heart Theologate in Hales Corners, Wisconsin; and St. Mark School of Theology in South Union, Kentucky. He was ordained to the priesthood on May 31, 1975, by Bishop Edward W. O’Rourke at St. Mary’s Cathedral, Peoria.
Father Crawford’s first parish assignments were as parochial vicar at Immaculate Conception, Monmouth; St. Mary, Keithsburg; St. Therese, New Boston; and St. Andrew, Oquawka.
Following a brief leave of absence, he was named parochial vicar at St. Mary, Grand Ridge, and St. Patrick, Ransom. He would become assistant chaplain of St. Mary Hospital in Streator in 1980, and later that year he began 11 years of service as administrator and later pastor (1990) of St. Bernard, Budd, and St. Joseph, Cornell. He was granted senior priest status in 1991.
Father Crawford is survived by a sister, Joanne Weth, and a sister-in-law, Dorothy Crawford, both of Streator, as well as nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by two sisters and four brothers.
Memorials may be made to St. Michael the Archangel Parish in Streator.