50 Influencers: Bill Crawford, the True Advocate

INA, Ill. (April 8, 2017) - William K. “Bill” Crawford Jr. is a name that could easily fly under the radar when combing the Rend Lake College history books for potential influencers, and, to be honest, Crawford wouldn’t have had it any other way.

William K Crawford JrWilliam K. "Bill" Crawford Jr.

“Bill was the kind of guy that was very involved,” expressed Crawford’s long-time friend and Rend Lake College Foundation Board member Dr. Bill Roe. “But, the thing that was very admirable about him was the fact that 90 percent of the lives he touched would have no idea that he was even involved.”

Crawford was, in no uncertain terms, a man who answered the call when people were in need. Born on Oct. 2, 1920, in Pinckneyville to William K. and Maude (Coffman) Crawford Sr., he graduated from Knox College in Galesburg, Ill. in 1943 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in economics.

After college, Crawford served as a carrier pilot during WWII. He received his commission and earned his wings in 1944. He returned home to Pinckneyville and started working at the family business, Murphy-Wall State Bank and Trust Company in 1948. He served as president and chairman of the board of the bank, establishing a 69-year career at the institution.

It was from that position that Crawford was able to build a silent legacy of charitable works that helped better the lives of people in his community. His commitment to Pinckneyville, and its residents, was far-reaching but out of the spotlight whenever he could help it.

Roe said it was a no-brainer when deciding who to approach for a RLC satellite campus when the project was first being discussed. Crawford was only too happy to help, quietly leading the charge to make sure his community had easily accessible post-secondary education options.

And, when the time came to build a science lab expansion on the Murphy-Wall campus to ensure students could complete the bulk of their degrees without leaving Pinckneyville, Crawford answered the call again.

“Bill personally gave a considerable sum to the project. But, when it came time to name it, he would only consider the bank’s contribution. That’s just who Bill was,” Roe said with a chuckle. “In fact, he might just come back and haunt me for relaying all this.”

When the science lab needed built, the whole Crawford family, under Bill’s guidance, stepped up to answer the call, fronting the funds to build the lab in Crawford’s brother’s name. Once completed, the new lab allowed students at the Pinckneyville campus to complete almost all of their degree close to home.

“Bill wouldn’t have appreciated flowery sentiment. That’s just not the way he was. He really didn’t want people to know. He was so involved. I don’t think people realize how involved he was. He was a kind and compassionate man that just always put others first,” expressed Roe.

Among the numerous stories of Crawford’s charitable work, Roe recounted times when the RLCF would approach Crawford about students in need. For his part, Crawford would simply ask about the student involved and then proceed to make sure the money was there.

His caring for his community didn’t stop with RLC. Crawford was also an active member of the First United Methodist Church of Pinckneyville, the grade school board, DuQuoin Elks, Chamber of Commerce, American Legion, Foundation for Pinckneyville, and served as president of the Rotary Club. As a veteran, Bill participated on an Honor Flight to Washington D.C. He was an avid golfer and loved to take fishing trips in Canada.

“Bill was an advocate in the truest sense of the word. An advocate for education, and advocate for Pickneyville and just an advocate for people,” said Roe.

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