Eulogy for Robert Crum
July 10, 2020
by Pastor John Partridge
We remember 1925 as the beginning of many things that shaped history. In California, the first ever Mo-tel, or Motorists Hotel, opened for the first time, F. Scott Fitzgerald published “The Great Gatsby,” the site that would eventually become Mount Rushmore was selected and dedicated, the Chrysler Corporation was created and manufactured it’s first automobile, Sears and Roebuck opened their first store in Chicago, Illinois, Adolf Hitler published “Mein Kampf”, Benito Mussolini took became the dictator of Italy, Calvin Coolidge was sworn in as the President of the United States and, in Alliance, Ohio, Robert Crum was born. Many things were happening, and the economy was booming as never before, but, only four years later, in 1929, the bottom would fall out as with the greatest stock market crash in modern history. And all these things would shape Robert’s life, and the lives of his family. Through it all, Robert and his sisters were close, if not the closest, of friends.
Maybe it had something to do with the stock market crash or the Great Depression but early on, Robert’s father, without announcement or explanation, just up and left his family. And so, Robert, and his sisters, Shirley and Maxine, and took care of one another and, at the same time, took care of their mom. Robert went to work early in the morning before school assisting a dairy man in his morning deliveries. At the end of their morning route, the dairyman would drop Bob off near Mount Union and Shirley would ride her bike there to pick him up and ride them both to school. At the age of 18, Shirley went to work at the West Ely Street Market and a few years later, when the owner retired, she took it over, eventually bought it, married Bob’s best friend Milton Carberry after he returned from World War II, who then learned to be a butcher and joined her there.
And of course, Milton Carberry wasn’t the only young man from Alliance to go to war. Robert did too. After he joined the Navy as a gunner’s mate, Robert may have served some of his time on an aircraft carrier, but “his” ship was the USS Dorthea L. Dix, a transport ship that carried troops and supplies on the way in, and carried wounded on the way back again. I’m not sure exactly when Robert joined her crew, but the Dorthea L. Dix earned six battle stars during the war in support of the Normandy invasion, the invasion of southern France from the Mediterranean, then with Robert aboard, passed through the Panama Canal, on Christmas Eve, when Robert was 18 years old, and into the Pacific Theater where they travelled to San Francisco, Pearl Harbor, the Aleutian Islands, and then landed troops in support of the battle at Okinawa, carried a ship load of the wounded back to San Francisco, and then transported troops back and forth from the Philippines until the end of the war. Robert often told the story of their transit of the Panama Canal and he was fiercely proud of his service. For the rest of his life he attended his ship’s reunions from Norfolk, to Boston, to South Carolina, and many other places. He told his daughters that his time in the Navy were some of the best years of his life.
While he was at sea, Robert knew that his mother and his sisters were struggling, and so he sent half of every paycheck home to help care for them. But what he didn’t know, was that despite her need, his mother was too proud of him to spend any of it. And so, when Robert returned from the war and went shopping for a new car, she gave it all back.
After his return from the war, Robert started working at Babcock and Wilcox, got married, had three beautiful daughters, then got divorced. But despite their separation, Robert was always a good dad. Not long after his divorce, however, a mutual friend introduced Robert to Sandy, they became friends, and have spent the last 50 plus years having adventures together as often as their busy schedules permitted them to be together.
Robert often missed his daughter Joni. She was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma at the age of twelve, had chemo and radiation until she was eighteen and survived. But then, several years later, because of the damage caused by the cancer and by the chemo, she developed Myocarditis, an inflammation of the heart muscle, and passed away at the age of twenty-seven.
Robert didn’t have any trouble finding things to do. He worked at B&W for 45 years (but got “passed up” by his daughter Carol who has 48), but also had a lifelong love of horses. As a boy he helped a local farmer just so that he could be near his horses. He got to be so good on the back of a horse that he earned the nickname, “flash.” and, as an adult, he bought ten acres of land on McCallum Ave. in Lexington Township where he put up a barn, put in a garden, helped the neighbors bale straw and, at least for a while, kept a horse of two of his own. He would go out to his place every day and do a little work, and sometimes spend the entire day there.
Along the way Robert also bought a house on Main Street two blocks from where he was born, and he lived there for 68 years. He knew everybody, and talked to everybody, and knew everything about everybody. And because he did, everyone just started calling him the “mayor of Main Street.”
Robert also joined the bowling league at B&W, as well as the bowling league for the Elks club and his teams almost always seemed to win. He loved to help at the VFW fish frys and steak frys or anything else that they did, and he jumped in to help fellow veterans whenever, and wherever he could. It seems as if Robert knew how much, during the Great Depression, that his survival had depended on the generosity of strangers, and just how much our nation owed to our veterans. And so, he chose to give back whenever he could. He would buy piles of shirts to give to a collection for local veterans, or sponsor veterans at Christmas, he never missed a Memorial Day parade or the services to honor the fallen at the cemetery and he was a regular at Freedom Square for the events held there every Veterans Day.
And his children, and Sandy, will never forget all of their vacation travels together or Robert’s solo adventures. They often spent time at a friend’s cottage at Berlin Lake where Robert also had a boat and together, they did a lot of fishing and boating together. They vacationed in Gatlinburg, Tennessee, to Busch Gardens in Florida, Milwaukee, Mississippi, and of course, Las Vegas. Robert loved Las Vegas. His family went with him at least ten times but if they couldn’t go, he went anyway, and make more than fifty trips there. And there were also all the times they spent together at the annual Babcock and Wilcox company picnics and amusement parks and other places as well as a few trips to the Mountaineer resort in West Virginia. When Robert first started going there, they only had horse racing, but in more recent years he also enjoyed the casino.
In the end, as we all are in ways both great and small, Robert Crum was shaped by the world, and the time, into which he was born. He was a member of what has been called our Greatest Generation. He, like his best friend, and many others, answered the call and went to war to keep the world safe and he continued to give of himself throughout his entire life. He worked hard, but always took the time to enjoy himself, even finding joy in his love of horses, and growing a garden. But most of all Robert Crum enjoyed the times when he could be with his family and friends, to care for them, and show them the love that he had for them. His life may have been difficult in the beginning, but it was in those times of struggle that he was shaped into a man of faithfulness, honor, and love. His family and his friends will remember his presence, his service, his generosity, and his love and if his example has taught any of us anything, then he has been a part of shaping our world as well. May we be as Robert was, may we live our lives so that we leave the world a better place than the one into which we were born.
Obituary for Robert G. Crum
Robert G. Crum, age 94, passed away on Saturday July 4th at the Gables of Canton Assisted Living.
He was born in Alliance, Ohio to Muriel (Elder) Crum on November 28, 1925. He attended Alliance High School before serving his country honorably in WWII in the United States Navy. His death is a fitting tribute to his patriotic spirit from the service to his country to pass away on the day of Independence of this great nation.
Robert was employed with B&W Tube in Alliance as a general foreman for 44 years until retiring in 1988.
He enjoyed bowling, fishing, horses, and traveling to Las Vegas. He was a life member of BPOE #467 and a Life member of the VFW Post #1036. Robert was a 75 year member of Christ United Methodist Church.
In honor of his military service, Robert is a “Hometown Hero” with his veteran’s banner at the corner of Union and Wayne, commemorating his dedication and service to his country. He was also selected with the distinction for the Honor Flight for WWII veterans with a trip to the nation’s capital.
Those left to cherish his memory include his daughters, Carol (Robert Sloan) Tallman of Boardman, and Sheryl (Jeff) Lain of Louisville; and longtime partner Sandra Stauffenger of Alliance.
He is preceded in death by his mother; daughter Joni Mastriacovo; and sisters, Maxine Lastivka and Shirley Carberry.
Funeral service will be held at Cassaday-Turkle-Christian Funeral home on Friday July 10th at 11:00 a.m., with Pastor John Partridge officiating. Friends may call one hour prior to the service. Interment will be held at Bunker Hill Cemetery. For the safety of the Crum family and visitors, please adhere to social distancing, and bring your own mask.
Memorial contributions may be made in Robert’s name to Christ United Methodist 470 E. Broadway Alliance, Ohio 44601, or to the VFW Post #1036.
Arrangements are entrusted to Cassaday-Turkle-Christian Funeral Home 75 South Union Ave Alliance, Ohio 44601.