Robert W. Crawford

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Robert Wilson Crawford, (1906 - 1995) was, until his death, a pioneer of public park policy and served in the park and recreation field for over forty years.[1] As the 'Commissioner of Recreation' in Philadelphia, he established a national model for local government’s provision of recreational services for all citizens and his methods have been copied in cities nationwide. Before he began to work for the Park Service, parks were viewed as ornamental. Crawford was instrumental in establishing them as recreational areas for beneficial activities for the community.[2] Crawford was President of the National Recreation and Park Association and life member of its trustees board. He was co-founder and former executive director of the National Recreation Foundation. Philadelphia's recreational facilities grew from 94 to 815 under Crawford's leadership. He is credited with developing programs for the elderly, preschoolers, and the handicapped.[3][4]

Crawford was one of the foremost distinguished professionals in the park and recreation field and easily one of the most respected researchers and practitioners in this field.[5][6]

Biography[edit]

Crawford was born in Maryland on April 11, 1906 but was raised in Iowa. Crawford graduated from DeMoines University with a Bachelor of Science degree in 1929. He also attended New York University where he received his Master's degree. He also graduated from the National Recreation School in New York City.[7]

In 1934, Crawford began his career with a job as Director of Recreation for Hastings-on-Hudson, New York. In 1946, Crawford became superintendent of recreation in Oakland, California for five years before moving to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1952.[8][9] His first position there was recreation administrator and later, he served as Commissioner of Recreation from 1952 until 1981.[10] He was also President of Fairmont Park Commission.

As the Commissioner of Recreation, Crawford established a national model for local government’s provision of recreational services for all citizens. Under his leadership, parks in the city added trails for hikers, basketball courts for people who used wheelchairs, and exercise programs based in community centers for the elderly. He also set up advisory groups to identify the recreational needs in specific neighborhoods. When he first came to Philadelphia in 1952, the city had 95 recreational areas. By the time he left, it had 815, including parks, playgrounds, swimming pools and community centers. Crawford worked in Philadelphia for 29 years. The recreation program that he developed there, now has a total of 853 facilities including 47 recreation centers, 145 playgrounds, 24 park playgrounds, 84 swimming pools, 192 neighborhood parks, 10 play lots, four ice rinks, seven youth camps, and 15 specialty sites such as Veterans Stadium and Kennedy Stadium.[11][12]

Much of Crawford's career was spent persuading government officials to increase the number of parks and recreational programs.[13] His approach to parks and recreation was a primary force in changing the way cities viewed parks and his creativity and innovative ideas won him international recognition. As Executive Director, he played a key role in the development and growth of the National Recreation Foundation. Crawford conceived the Recreation and Park Hall of Fame in 1987, while serving as Executive Director of the National Recreation Foundation.[14][15]

Crawford retired on July 1, 1981. Philadelphia Mayor William Green praised him, saying "If recreation were baseball, he would be a Babe Ruth or a Hank Aaron. If recreation were boxing, he would be a Joe Louis or Jack Dempsey." He also stated that no one would be able to take Crawford's place after he left[16]

Temple University Libraries holds a collection of his professional papers where he held an Honorary Degree of Doctor of Public Service.[17] He also held an Honorary Degree of Doctor of Law from Grinnell College.[18] The Robert W. Crawford Achievement Prize is named in his honor.

In 1993, Crawford published his autobiography, "Reflections of a Recreational Professional".[19][20] All financial proceeds were donated to the National Recreation and Park Association.

He died on April 11, 1995, on his 89th birthday, in Walnut Creek, California from heart failure.[21]

Personal life[edit]

Crawford not only advocated recreation for the public but enjoyed it with his family as well. They often went hunting, fishing, hiking and camping and played tennis and badminton. Crawford also loved playing golf.[22]

He was married to Dorothy Mollenhoff Crawford who died in 1992. They had a son.[23]

Career[edit]

Offices Crawford held included:[24]

Awards[edit]

  • John B. Kelly Athletic Award, 1970
  • Richard Wilbur Award, 2000s
  • The Philadelphia Award, 1976 [25]
  • Ralph C. Wilson Award, 1987
  • Received the first World Leisure and Recreation Association Excellence in Leadership Award, 1994
  • Inaugurated the Robert W Crawford award, which per the site is geared towards "recogni[zing]" leaders who "serve as examples for future leaders in continuing the recreation and park movement into the 21st century."[26]

References[edit]

  1. ^ ""Robert Wilson Crawford 1906-1995. (Recroom)" - Parks & Recreation, Vol. 36, Issue 12, December 2001 | Online Research Library: Questia". www.questia.com. Retrieved 2016-04-18. 
  2. ^ Elliott, J. Michael (1995-04-15). "Robert W. Crawford, 89, Father Of Philadelphia's Parks System". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2016-04-18. 
  3. ^ Temple University Libraries, RObert W Crawford, http://library.temple.edu/collections/urbana/craw-461.jsp;jsessionid=E75BCE72D6FE5F38C7997B50FF1130B0?bhcp=1
  4. ^ "Robert W. Crawford Lecture Series: Parks and recreation has evolved through six eras in the past 50 years. Which era are you in? [380] - Details". nrpa.eventsential.org. Retrieved 2016-04-18. 
  5. ^ Parks & Recreation, August, 1995
  6. ^ Association, National Recreation and Park. "Notable News | Community Center | Parks & Recreation Magazine". www.parksandrecreation.org. Retrieved 2016-04-18. 
  7. ^ "Robert Crawford; Ran City Recreation". philly-archives. Retrieved 2016-04-18. 
  8. ^ ""Robert Wilson Crawford 1906-1995. (Recroom)" - Parks & Recreation, Vol. 36, Issue 12, December 2001 | Online Research Library: Questia". www.questia.com. Retrieved 2016-04-18. 
  9. ^ Philadelphia, City of. "City of Philadelphia: Department of Recreation History". www.phila.gov. Retrieved 2016-04-18.  horizontal tab character in |title= at position 25 (help)
  10. ^ "Robert Crawford; Ran City Recreation". philly-archives. Retrieved 2016-04-18. 
  11. ^ ""Robert Wilson Crawford 1906-1995. (Recroom)" - Parks & Recreation, Vol. 36, Issue 12, December 2001 | Online Research Library: Questia". www.questia.com. Retrieved 2016-04-18. 
  12. ^ "Robert Crawford; Ran City Recreation". philly-archives. Retrieved 2016-04-18. 
  13. ^ NY Times, Saturday, April 15, 1995, http://www.nytimes.com/1995/04/15/obituaries/robert-w-crawford-89-father-of-philadelphia-s-parks-system.html
  14. ^ "Robert W Crawford Hall of Fame Award | National Recreation and Park Association". www.nrpa.org. Retrieved 2016-04-18. 
  15. ^ "Hall of Fame | American Academy for Park and Recreation Administration". www.aapra.org. Retrieved 2016-04-18. 
  16. ^ "Robert Crawford; Ran City Recreation". philly-archives. Retrieved 2016-04-18. 
  17. ^ "Robert W. Crawford Papers | Temple University Libraries". library.temple.edu. Retrieved 2016-04-18. 
  18. ^ ""Robert Wilson Crawford 1906-1995. (Recroom)" - Parks & Recreation, Vol. 36, Issue 12, December 2001 | Online Research Library: Questia". www.questia.com. Retrieved 2016-04-18. 
  19. ^ ISBN 0-929581-76-8 ISBN 978-0-929581-76-7
  20. ^ Crawford, Robert Wilson; Association, National Recreation and Park (1993-01-01). Reflections of a Recreation Professional. National Recreation and Park Association. ISBN 9780929581767. 
  21. ^ Elliott, J. Michael (1995-04-15). "Robert W. Crawford, 89, Father Of Philadelphia's Parks System". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2016-04-18. 
  22. ^ "Robert Crawford; Ran City Recreation". philly-archives. Retrieved 2016-04-18. 
  23. ^ "Robert Crawford; Ran City Recreation". philly-archives. Retrieved 2016-04-18. 
  24. ^ Philadelphia, City of. "City of Philadelphia: Department of Recreation History". www.phila.gov. Retrieved 2016-04-18.  horizontal tab character in |title= at position 25 (help)
  25. ^ "Robert Crawford; Ran City Recreation". philly-archives. Retrieved 2016-04-18. 
  26. ^ http://www.nrpa.org/halloffame/