Services for Griffin Crawford, who died August 16, 2016 at John Knox Village Care Center in Lee’s Summit, MO, will be Saturday August 27, 2016 at First Presbyterian Church of Lee’s Summit 1625 NW O’Brien Rd, Lee’s Summit, MO at 11am, visitation the hour prior. Burial immediately following at Forest Hill Cemetery at 6901 Troost Avenue, KCMO.
In lieu of flowers, memorial may be made to John Knox Hospice.
Griff was born in Kansas City, MO on April 17, 1922 in the third of eight children to Herbert and Mary Beatrice (Griffin) Crawford. The family moved to a farm near Basehor, KS, when Griff was small. The farm burned and they moved back to south KC on 76th Terrace. After a full life, Griff has resided at John Knox Village for the past two decades. He and his wife, Vivian, came to live on Peace Pkwy after she was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. Together, they enjoyed dancing, participating in the Fun Band and many other social activities. After eight years, during which Griff learned to play the drums at age 75 for the Fun Band, the Sunday night dances at Sun Valley Clubhouse and other occasions, Vivian moved to the care center and Griff remained in their apartment, now above the bank in the Villager Inn. This location enabled him to continue practicing the drums after hours.
Griff said the saddest day of his life was the day he had to put Vivian in the care center. He took the Dial-A-Ride everyday to visit and sing with Vivian until her passing on September 4, 2010.
Nothing was more important in life to Griff than his relationship with God and relationships with other people. It was always God first, people second, finance third, and things last. No other person was more important to Griff than Vivian. They were truly “as one.” Griff often said, “I could never have done any of it alone. Vivian was the best thing I got out of the University of Missouri.”
After graduating from Paseo High School in KCMO, Griff began “filling his basket” with more life experiences by working different jobs, traveling to California and joining the U.S. Army during WWII. The Army sent him home with an honorable discharge after finding out that he was losing his eyesight due to Retinitis Pigmentosa. Griff and Vivian met in the fall of 1945, while they were both attending school in Columbia where Griff and another student were the first two students to attend MU on the GI Bill. Vivian was tapping her foot at a dance and Griff asked her if she would like to dance. They danced and danced. Eloped in March 1946, and kept right on dancing!
Along with continuing to dance, they laughed, sang, and worked very, very hard, deferring gratifications until they could afford to indulge themselves somewhat. First, Griff had a used car business on Prospect in KCMO and Vivian worked at Bendix. One day, Griff asked Vivian to quit her job and come to work with him. They were a terrific team! Hard work paid off. They were rewarded with a new car Dodge dealership, then a new car Ford dealership, both in Olathe, KS. That Ford dealership is now known as Olathe Ford. Just as they were in the midst of winning awards from car companies, going on vacations paid for by those companies, and going great guns, being members of the Olathe Chamber of Commerce, the Olathe Optimist Club (including Griff being president), board members of the Salvation Army and the Red Cross, and of course, members of their church, Griff decided they should sell the last of the car dealerships, Crawford Ford.
He had a bad aortic valve and many friends and family in the stressful car business were having heart attacks. He thought it was best to make a change. As it would turn out, Griff had that aortic valve replaced first in 1988, again in 2000, and a prototype put in to his second artificial aortic valve in 2013, with this prototype eventually failing after 2 years and 8 months more of life, the first 12 months of which were wonderful! We thank the Heart unit at St. Luke’s on the Plaza for all that they do!
Griff and Vivian launched into other endeavors after selling the dealerships, real estate, and stocks. Griff had a knack for both, and always said he was a “lucky guy.” Vivian was a wizard with the numbers, the books, and keeping all the important paperwork straight! Together they built businesses, a house in the country that Griff designed and was his own general contractor on, including sanding down his own woodwork, and many many life long relationships! They had dear friends in the south Texas valley, and began wintering in McAllen and Padre Island areas with them. They also took several cruises around the world.
With Vivian’s diagnosis, they returned to Lee’s Summit to be close to family and to live at John Knox Village, which Griff had decided was the best place for he and Vivian to still be together with her under excellent care, and him being able to live in an independent life. He thoroughly enjoyed his life at JKV. Griff had a generous spirit and caring heart. He had an “inspirational” impact on those whose lives touched his. He walked on the bright side of the road, having a profound influence on all who crossed his path. Griff shared his life with others through this autobiography, which can be checked out at the Mid-Continent Library, “Where There’s A Will, There’s A Way”: a short story.
He will be greatly missed.
Griff is survived by many loved ones including his brother, Dave Crawford and wife Carol, of Leawood, KS; sister ,Betty Heller Crawford, of NYC, NY, sister, Ann Simpson, of Naples, FL; as well as many nieces, nephews, great nieces, and great nephews.