Hallmarks of an 80-year KC member: family, friends, faith and service

At the encouragement of their father, Ed Crawford, then 20, and his brother Leo decided to become Knights of Columbus in Fort Dodge, Iowa, along with their father who would be reinstated. In April 1943, a few days after that ceremony, Ed was inducted into the United States Army Air Corps.

Crawford turned 100 in December, happy to have served the Church and the Knights for all those years.

“When I was shipped to different bases, I’d find the chapel so I could attend Mass. Once I got back home, I attended meetings of the Knights but was simply a member, without taking any kind of position,” Crawford said. “The KC Hall was our social center — whatever was happening there, we were a part of it. I met Marian Cahill, and we married and then began our family. Contributing to our faith was important — my parents had always contributed to their parish, not from excess but from their first fruits, and we did also. But those early years, we struggled to make a living and I wasn’t an active Knight.”

That didn’t happen until the growing family moved to Algona, Iowa, in 1958.

“There I got acquainted with Howard Miller, a very strong Knight who practically dragged me to meetings. The two of us just clicked, and as couples we became the best of friends. He urged me to become a Third Degree Knight and I served on committees and in various offices in the council. I would have been Grand Knight in 1967 but that year we moved to St. Cloud for my employment as a buyer and manager for Big Bear Stores.”

In 1965 Miller had sponsored him for membership as a Fourth Degree Knight in Iowa.

“When we moved, I immediately transferred my membership in the Knights and attended different Third Degree Council meetings. To meet more people from a wider area, I decided to concentrate on the Father Pierz Fourth Degree General Assembly. We often stood as honor guard for Bishop George Speltz and at funerals and special Masses, and I served in many offices, including Faithful Navigator, and was Knight of the Year twice.”

When members of St. Joseph Parish in Waite Park formed the Bishop Peter W. Bartholome Council #12822, it was the right fit for him. Crawford served as trustee and Grand Knight and was awarded Knight of the Year in 2005.

“On Valentine’s Day, when Cash Wise Foods grocery stores needed extra drivers to deliver flowers, we’d volunteer as a fundraising project. And I worked all the spaghetti feeds and other events,” he said.

Ed Crawford holds the papal blessing he received for his 100th birthday. Behind him is Mary Ellen Keymer, his daughter. (photo submitted)

One particular project he chaired was the removal of a bowling alley from the parish school basement so it could be converted into a youth club.

“When no one would run the bowling alley, I offered to deconstruct it. Taking out the wiring was very complicated as was dismantling the pin setters. Our crew bashed a lot of knuckles getting stuff out. It was a dirty job in dust and mold and took us a couple of months but doing that work for the youth was very satisfying for me.

“I  figured how to salvage all the copper electrical wire and sell it for recycling. When we finished, there was a new space for youth and we presented the pastor, Father Ron Weyrens with a check, a nice surprise.”

Previously an active member of St. Joseph Parish in Waite Park, he’s lived for nine years with his daughter and son-in-law, Mary Ellen and Gerry Keymer, and attends with them St. Paul Parish in St. Cloud, where he enjoys his front-row pew.

To celebrate turning 100, during Mass, Father LeRoy Scheierl presented Crawford with a papal blessing and afterward the family treated everyone to coffee and decorated cookies. The choir director, who shares the same birthday, handed out candles for the entire choir and community to sing “Happy Birthday.”

The Knights of Columbus Council #12822 honored him for his 80 years as a Knight with a recognition dinner held at the VFW Granite Post #428 in St. Cloud.

Crawford said, “Mom told me I wouldn’t regret giving to my faith, that it would always come back to me. There were years when Marian and I were poor but didn’t know it. Now I can be generous when I see a group is doing something good for their neighbors. We share with what we are given.”

Author: Nikki Rajala

Nikki Rajala is a writer/copy editor for The Central Minnesota Catholic Magazine.

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