Frances Ida (Richardson) Crawford
Frances Ida Crawford, 92, a longtime resident of Tilton and Laconia, NH, died on October 15, 2019, at the Kaplan Family Hospice House in Danvers, MA following a period of failing health. Fran, as she was known, was born in Portage la Prairie, Manitoba, Canada, May 27, 1927, daughter of Frank B. C. Richardson and Marietta (Taylor) Richardson. Fran spent her youth in the small towns of Saskatchewan and Manitoba, graduating as the valedictorian from Scott Collegiate Institute, Regina, Saskatchewan, in 1944. She received her nursing credentials from Portage la Prairie General Hospital in 1948, and Skidmore College in New York City in 1953, where she practiced as a registered nurse for several years in the Pediatric Unit at Bellevue Medical Center. Traveling to New York from the mid-western Canadian Prairies with her girlfriends was surely adventuresome at the time!
In 1955, Fran moved to the Children’s Cancer Research Foundation and Institute in Boston, known then as The Jimmy Fund, working with Dr. Sidney Farber in acute pediatric leukemia. Fran, met and married her late husband in Boston, Lt. Col. Charles H. Crawford, USAF, RET., in 1956. They settled in Tilton, NH, in 1966, after being stationed at a US Air Force base in Stephenville, Newfoundland, Canada, and at Wright Patterson, Dayton, Ohio, and living in both Manchester, VT, and Falls Church, VA.
Fran, while raising four daughters, continued nursing, working in the Tilton-Northfield area as the relief Visiting Nurse and for the Red Cross Mobile Donor Clinics. She was vigilant about keeping her credentials and nursing care practices up-to-date, and was unique among her peers for her early understanding and knowledge in the area of HIV/AIDS.
From 1975-1984, Fran worked with a close-knit medical team at the Laconia Family Planning Services of Laconia CAP, providing medical care and monthly counseling to hundreds of low-income women in the areas of family planning and sexually transmitted infectious diseases. She was a passionate advocate for a woman’s right to understand and control her own health care decisions. This work was critical to her. Fran went on to become the staff nurse at Franklin High School from 1984-1988, working daily with kids, bringing her knowledge of bodily health to the grass roots level. She continued to work in the area of family planning into the 1990s and her eventual retirement, but she never stopped her advocacy of women’s health.
During this time, Fran also was a member of the Winnisquam Regional School Board (1973-1979). For many years, her summers were spent running Mr. Charlie’s Drive In, famous for its red and white stripes, tall flagpoles, and buckets of red and white petunias. She was the creator of the famous home cooked roast beef sandwiches in the gold foil. An organizer for the Tilton Girl Scouts, she was also one of the weekend Mom’s in the Lodge at Highlands Ski Area.
As a naturalized American, Fran valued the democratic political process of “citizen-lawmaker” and she served briefly as Vice Chair of the Tilton Town Democratic Committee. In 1972, Fran ran as a Democratic candidate for the N.H. House of Representatives running on a platform to promote wellbeing for the elderly, the disabled, and the mentally and emotionally ill “whose life is a constant struggle.” She advocated for “a sensible program of economic development for [NH], without turning it into an environmental nightmare.” Fran was well ahead of her time.
Following her husband's death in 2009, Fran stayed in the Laconia area for seven years. Fran was a parishioner of St. James Episcopal Church in Laconia. She loved making the dog and cat treat stockings and cookies for the annual sale. She was a talented knitter and loved her dog, Jazz, and Flash, the black cat. Thanksgiving or Christmas was not complete without zippy salad.
Fran later moved to her daughter Kristi's home in Peabody, MA, to live closer to family.
She was predeceased by her husband of 52 years in 2009 at the age of 88. She was also predeceased by a sister, Margaret Proudfoot of Kingston, Ontario, Canada, April 2019, and her good friend, Norma Johnson of Laconia, NH, in 2006.
She leaves her daughters: Gretchen Johnston and her husband, Dennis Johnston of Calgary Alberta, Canada; Kristi Jeffers and her husband, John Jeffers of Peabody, MA;
Johanna St. Gelais and her husband, Mark St. Gelais of Meredith, NH;
and Ingrid Hunt, of Lyndhurst, NJ; eight grandchildren Tina, Tracy, Cristin, Carie, Erin, Hunter, Helen, and Angus; six great grandchildren Natalia, Parker, Shea, Kennedy, Arie, and Edie; her brother, George Richardson of Kingston, Ontario, Canada.
Fran often said how lucky we would be to have one good friend in life. Many, many people from all parts of her life, work, and adventures would have considered her a great friend, mentor, and mom—too many people to name here. You brought her much joy, laughter, and debate!
From her valedictorian speech in 1944: “A life of selfless service is the greatest thing of all;
Christ himself said: Heal the sick, this labor is divine, and it will earn a rich reward when life’s shadow falls.”
Following Fran's wishes, there are no calling hours planned. A committal service will be held on Monday October 28th at 10:30am next to her husband at the New Hampshire State Veterans Cemetery, 110 Daniel Webster Highway in Boscawen, NH.
Those wishing, and are able, may make a memorial contribution in Fran's name to the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in memory of Frances Crawford to support cancer research and patient care at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, PO Box 849168, Boston, MA 02284 or via www.jimmyfund.org/gift.
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