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William J. Crum, Jr, 97, passed away on the morning of August 29, 2018. To say he lived a full life would be an understatement. Bill was born on June 15, 1921, in Mounds, Oklahoma. The youngest of three children, he always remembered his upbringing with great fondness and regaled his children, grandchildren and great grandchildren with stories in the way only he could.
He enlisted in the Army as a student at the Oklahoma State University. After serving in WW2 as a B-17 pilot, he returned to complete his degree. His hope was to become an attorney so he headed to the University of Denver. Upon registering he discovered that he would not be allowed to work while attending law school which would have prohibited from being able to pay his tuition. So he strolled across the street and enrolled in an MBA program instead.
Bill’s next move was to Dallas for a job. More importantly, that is where he met a young beauty named Robbie Lee Folkes. They married in 1950 and learned the joy of committed love over the 60 years they were married before her passing in 2010 after having lived in Dallas, New Orleans, San Francisco and Huntley, IL together.
The business of sales was always in his blood. He had sold everything from Bibles door to door, sporting goods, stoves before finding his finest niche - fresh produce. (Truth be told, it seemed it really all began as he sold his father’s poetry door to door in his youth which his father made him buy back!)
From his days at Standard fruit through his esteemed career with Castle and Cooke, Bill established significant relationships that continued until his death. His interest in workplace culture and development of his sales teams reflected a man ahead of his time.
Bill was recognized for his sales and marketing work over the years as Marketing Executive of the Year in San Francisco (1981), Produce Man of the Year (1982), and as board member of the United Fruit and Vegetable Association in 1986 before retiring from Castle and Cooke as Executive Vice President and having served on its board.
Bill was instrumental in containerizing banana shipments, the placement of pineapple peeling/coring appliances in grocery stores, and the distribution of washed, bagged salad mixes, among other things. He also developed a produce handling internship program for high school students in Oakland to increase their employability.
As important to him as his work, Bill invested his life in others though his work as a Sunday school teacher and Bible study leader. Until two months before his death, he was still teaching two Bible studies in the senior apartment complex where he resided. He also greatly enjoyed “those young people” with whom he worshipped on Sundays despite his being 60 years older than most. His life had been marked by his love for God and he wanted others to enjoy the same. He treasured the time spent teaching Sunday School and serving as a deacon/elder especially at Lake Pointe Community Church in Rockwall, TX and at the Evangelical Free Church of Crystal Lake, IL.
Bill is survived by two children, Suzanne Crum Angulo and Wm. Jackson Crum, Jr., along with their spouses; seven grandchildren; and six much loved great grandchildren.
He was preceded in death by his beloved Robbie; his daughter, Pamela Crum Bloomfield; and a grandson, Justin Baxter Crum; along with his two siblings.
Because of his desire to invest in the next generation of leaders in the church, in lieu of flowers, Bill requested remembrances to be directed as gifts to the leadership residency program of Park Community Church, which develops young men and women for service in the local church. Gifts can be sent to Park Community Church, 1001 N Crosby St, Chicago, IL. 60610 ATTN: William Crum Memorial.
A memorial service will be held on Saturday, September 15 at 10:30am at Park Community Church in Chicago at the above address.