John H. Crawford, O.S.A.

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1900 – 1957 (February 12)

John Haldane Crawford, son of Charles P. Crawford and Hannah M Gavin, was born on May 5, 1900, in Tignish, Prince Edward Island, Canada, where he was baptized on May 13, 1900. The Crawford family moved to Lawrence, Massachusetts, where John received his early education. He attended Lawrence Public Schools for six years, Saint Mary’s Parish School for two years and then two years at Saint John Preparatory School, Danvers, Mass. In 1916, John entered Saint Rita Hall, Villanova, Pennsylvania, as a postulant. On June 24, 1917, he began his novitiate, made first profession July 23, 1918, and solemn profession on July 23, 1921. He received a B.A. degree from Villanova College in June 1921. On September 22, 1923, John Crawford was ordained to the priesthood at Villanova, by Bishop Michael Crane. 

Father Crawford did graduate work at the Catholic University, Washington D.C., and, in 1924, became professor of Physics at Villanova College, and taught there for twenty-five years. During those years he attended Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland, where he continued graduate studies in Physics. In 1939, he was appointed head of the Physics Department at Villanova College. In 1951, Father Crawford joined the new Augustinian community at Merrimack College, North Andover, Mass., where he established and became Dean of the Division of Engineering. That same year he received an honorary Doctor of Science degree from LaSalle College in Philadelphia, Pa. In addition to his teaching career at Merrimack College, Father Crawford also served as subprior and counselor in the community. During the Second World War, he worked with the Navy V-2 program in numerous research activities and contributed to the development of ultrasonic and sonar. His career included membership in the American Physics Society and the American Association of Physics Teachers. He was also chaplain of the “Catholic Daughters of America.”

On Tuesday, February 12, 1957, Father Crawford suffered a heart attack in the faculty room of Sullivan Hall, Merrimack College, and died at Bon Secours Hospital, at the age of 56. A funeral Mass was held in the Chapel of Christ the Teacher on the campus of Merrimack College, followed by internment in Saint Mary Cemetery, Lawrence, Mass.

As a testimony to the friendships Father Crawford developed over the years there were over two-hundred dignitaries and delegates present for the funeral ceremonies. The Archdiocese of Boston was represented by Bishop Jeremiah F. Minihan, D.D., with sixty diocesan and religious priests, delegates from the Villanova College Alumni, the Knights of Columbus, Men of Merrimack, Ladies of Merrimack, Central Catholic High School, Sisters of Charity of Halifax, personnel from Bon Secours hospital, Lawrence City Council, military aide from the governor’s office, and classmates from St. Mary’s grammar school, class of 1914.

Father Albert Shannon, O.S.A., who delivered the eulogy, summed up the spirit of Father Crawford with these words, “We do know that he strove to make himself an adaptable instrument, readily at the behest of his Superiors; they knew they could call upon him for the most exacting tasks, knowing full well he would answer the need with all the talent and enthusiasm at his command.”