La Jara/Romeo Colorado – On the morning of December 31, 2018, just 14 days shy of his 90th birthday, Richard Dwaine “Snookie” Crawford (89), passed away peacefully in his home in the community of La Jara, CO from cardiopulmonary failure and end stage dementia. His eldest son, Bart, and his daughter, Lori, were with him at his bedside at the time of his passing.
Dwaine was the first of five children born to Richard “Dick” and Emma (Casaus) Crawford. He was born in La Jara, CO (Conejos County) on January 14, 1929. Dwaine is survived by siblings, Gloria Ann Gritz Peterson and Judy Lee Clark. Preceding Dwaine in death are both his parents, his siblings June Margaret “Peggy” Johnson, Donna Jeanne Swafford, and JoAnn (stillborn).
As their first child, Dwaine’s parents struggled to come up with a name precious enough for their handsome prince. In the meantime, his grandmother, Margaret, started calling him her little Snookums and thus Dwaine would be known throughout his life (to his great dismay) by the nickname Snooks or Snookie; although, if asked what his name was, he always replied Dwaine.
Outside his military service, Dwaine lived his entire life in the La Jara community. He was a high school graduate and his life occupation was that of a mechanic and later also as a rancher. He worked for Phillips Chevrolet (La Jara) prior to being drafted into the Korean War. Dwaine was inducted into the Army on March 2, 1951.
Dwaine spent eleven months at Camp Carson, CO and then on to Germany. Dwaine missed hunting, fishing, and horseback riding and could not wait to return to civilian life to resume his outdoor interests with friends and family. He returned from Germany to the US in January 1953 where he was honorably released as a sergeant from Active Duty on January 26, 1953. Dwaine was honorably discharged from the Reserves on October 4, 1956.
Upon returning from the service, he resumed work as a civilian mechanic. Dwaine worked side-by-side with his father (Dick) at Crawford Service (auto mechanic and body) on Main Street in La Jara. When his father retired in the late 70’s, they closed the family business and Dwaine went to work as a manager for at the feedlot just west of Sanford. A couple years later, Dwaine re-opened Crawford Service, next to the Trading Post, in La Jara which he operated until retirement. Following retirement, Dwaine continued to farm until his mid-80’s.
In 1957, Richard Dwaine married Loraine Nielson; together they celebrated nearly 58 years of marriage before Loraine’s death on Sept 6, 2014 from complications attributed to Myelodysplastic Syndrome (MDS). Loraine’s death completely devastated Dwaine and he was lost without her.
Life-long friends (Gordon Brown, Bill Sowards, Larry Billig, and Ferrell Crawford) were important to Dwaine. He loved his mother, Emma, dearly and relied heavily on his wife, Loraine, to whom he was devoted (although he often forgot to show his appreciation). When his children would question him, “why do we have to dig ditches”, his response was, “so you don’t have to grow up to be a ditch digger.” Dad expected us to earn our way and to be independent; however, if we really got into a pinch, he would willing step in to help us out before it was too late. Mom nurtured us and was our cheerleader, dad made us tough, resilient and independent! They both gave us the best legacy ever--how to work hard, how to use our minds and our hands to accomplish anything we set our minds to, and to not rely on outsiders.
Dwaine had a great love of the outdoors. He enjoyed hunting, fishing, camping, horseback riding, arrowhead hunting, boating, gold panning, jewelry making and more. He taught his wife, Loraine (Nielson), to love the mountains and outdoors and they raised their children spending many a weekend in Fox Creek, Rio Grande National Forest and the San Juan Wilderness Area. If they weren’t in the mountains, they were at a 4-H rodeo event, or on drives to the “big cities” of Albuquerque, Santa Fe, and Colorado Springs where he loved to eat at his favorite city restaurants.
Dwaine had an uncanny ability to fix and build most anything. If he set his mind to something, there was next to nothing he could not do. He was persistent; and, if he started something, he finished it and it was done right. The mottos he lived by and instilled in his children and grandchildren were “if a job is worth doing, it is worth doing right” and “if you start something, you will finish it.” Whether it was repairing a car, tractor, television, washing machine or remodeling his home, Dwaine could do it all and did it well. No money to buy a camper, horse trailer, or circular stairway for the home, no problem—he’d just design and build them himself.
At 5’ 5’’, 140 lbs., with black hair and brown eyes, Dwaine was not a large man by any means; yet, in the eyes of his family he was mighty in stature and character. Dwaine did not swear and he did not take advantage of his fellowmen. Honesty, integrity, and hard work were principles he lived by and expected the same from his family.
Dwaine loved to tease his sisters and his mother and later his wife and children. While being shy, introverted, and extremely private, Dwaine loved to joke with family and visit with friends. Later in life as he struggled with dementia, Dwaine often had the upper hand and one did not clearly know if he was pulling their leg or truly did not understand. Bart and Lori would often shake their heads and chuckle along with dad as we caught him playing possum and pretending to be unaware as others attempted to interact with him. In his last years, he loved to sing silly songs, make outrageous comments, ride in the mountains, visit with his friends at the ‘Knowledge Bowl’, play and sit with his dog Mocha Jo, and go out to eat.
In January 2015, following the passing of his wife, Richard Dwaine joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day and was ordained to the Aaronic priesthood as a Priest. His late life was frightening and difficult due to advanced dementia. He had faith in God and Jesus Christ and bedside family prayer brought him comfort and peace. While he was not the traditional church goer, he believed in God and had a high moral compass.
Dwaine’s last years were difficult. Along with debilitating farming and mechanic accidents, he suffered from dementia, diabetes, and kidney disease. One of the hardest, most humbling things in his life as a private, self-reliant man was having to rely on his wife and children to accomplish the things on the farm that he no longer could do; and later on, for his complete care.
Dwaine’s one wish was to live out his life in his home and through the assistance of Visiting Angels (Christal, Clorinda and Lisa) along with a helping hand from Hospice del Valle staff and volunteers (Erma and Carlos), his children and sister Judy were able to fulfill his lifelong wish to keep him at home. Dwaine spent only 15 days total in respite care over the past 4 years when employer obligations gave the family no other option. Having all independence removed and family that sometimes lost their cool from shear exhaustion, Dwaine was kind, considerate and within the constraints of his dementia, he strove to make his caregiver’s lives easier. Please, thank you, and can you do me a favor were among his very last words to daughter Lori and Visiting Angel, Christal. His last request to Lori the morning before he passed was, please can we go fishing today.
Richard Dwaine Crawford is survived by his children, Bart (Christi) Crawford, Bryan (Dana) Crawford and Lori (Crawford) Clark; by his grandchildren, Taushah Crawford, Keishah (Andrew) Tanner, Dalton (Amileah) Crawford, Austin Crawford, Shiloh (Megan) Crawford, Jadi (Brian) Hancock, and Hillary (Phil) Miller; by great grandchildren, Ezra, Liam, Wesley and Ashlyn Tanner, Maci and Addilee Crawford, Joshua, Levi, and Tyler Hancock, and Owen Crawford. His spouse, Loraine (Nielson) Crawford preceded Dwaine in death as well as children, Tanya Crawford and Neal Richard Crawford, and great granddaughter, Avery Tanner, who died as infants.
An open house will be held Saturday, January 5th from 9:30—10:45, followed immediately by funeral services at 11:00 –both to be held at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in La Jara. Dwaine will be interred and laid to rest in the La Jara Cemetery alongside his beloved spouse.
Rogers Family Mortuary of Alamosa, Colorado is in care of the arrangements. Online condolences may be made at www.rogersfunerals.com. Please make donations to Hospice del Valle.
“By love they are remembered, and in memory they live”