The evening of April 27, Connie Crawford was just about to climb into the shower when the phone rang. It was Harriet Alto, who asked if she could delay bathing long enough for Alto to make a short visit. Crawford agreed. A few minutes later the committee that announces the Citizen of the Year award arrived on her doorstep.

The evening of April 27, Connie Crawford was just about to climb into the shower when the phone rang. It was Harriet Alto, who asked if she could delay bathing long enough for Alto to make a short visit. Crawford agreed. A few minutes later the committee that announces the Citizen of the Year award arrived on her doorstep.

“She was in her bathrobe and barefooted,” Alto later emailed. “She was shocked and had tears.”

During an interview the following week, Crawford explained the shock came because everyone on the committee knew she was soon going to be moving out of Dunsmuir. “I'm not going to be here!” she exclaimed. “I got this really wonderful award, and I'm not going to be here!”

Crawford is moving south to be with family in the Bay Area. The house in Dunsmuir where she has lived the last 30 years is now in escrow. The buyer, she believes, is solid and will come through. She estimates she has only 60 to 90 days left in our historic railroad town.

She began here in Dunsmuir High School, as a teacher. “They made me the business teacher,” she said, “Because I was the only teacher with a business background.”

She volunteered to extend her student's learnings by offering to drive them down to Redding for Future Business Leaders of America Meetings, where they were exposed to advanced studies, such as office practices, accounting and computer applications.

After joining the Dunsmuir Rotary Club, she became known for her openness to younger folks. Frequently she served as a host mother to Youth Exchange members, high schoolers from other countries who attended Dunsmuir High School for a year.
She also helmed the Interact Club, the youth program of Rotary International.

She described the Interact breakfast meetings held at her house every Thursday. “They were so much at home in my kitchen, they would fix breakfast, eat, and still get to school on time,” she said.

Said Interact president Patrick Carr, “Connie, in my experience, is a compassionate person. When we do something like Save the Rain, she's really moved by it. She's someone who cares about other people in general.”

Crawford also opened her home to a variety of Rotary activities, ranging from the annual Christmas party to hosting receptions for visiting Rotary dignitaries. In 2003, she became an officer herself, serving as district governor for Rotary District 5160. In this capacity, she gave her club the opportunity to experience a wider world.

Long-time Rotary member Steve Minuth was there when she joined. “She put her heart and soul and energy into Rotary,” he said. “She looked at what we had and broadened our horizons.”

She may have broadened her own as well. After her term as district governor ended, she still traveled extensively to attend district meetings, as well as the annual international conference, which took her to foreign lands such as Spain, Japan and Australia.

“Plus I’ve been all over the country for national conventions,” she said. For the last several years, she has served with the Rotary Council on Legislation, which meets in Chicago to govern Rotary International's changes in club bylaws.

Minuth said, “She lives in total commitment.”

For most of these activities and duties, Crawford paid out of her own pocket to participate, serving as a member of what Rotary terms itself, an international organization of community volunteers.

Her community volunteer service extended from her contributions to the local club in the form of fundraisers for college scholarships and support for outbound Youth Exchange students coming from Dunsmuir and going to study in countries like Germany, Denmark and Brazil.

“For me, it’s mostly about youth,” she said. “To give them the opportunity to experience a wider world. You hear that you made a difference in a child’s life, and there’s nothing more satisfying than that.”

Also through Rotary, she supported Dunsmuir Botanical Gardens, particularly for their annual Palo Alto Chamber Orchestra presentation of the “Tribute to the Trees” concert. Last year she became president of the Gardens.

For Crawford this was simply the latest in a very long series of community services.
“I started out in service organizations when I was a teenager in El Paso. We used to deliver coloring books to the burn ward. That was hard.”

As a child, she guesses age three, she was paralyzed by what she now believes was polio. “At age 18, a doctor told me I had either rickets or polio as a child.” She said it was probably polio, because that explains the symptoms she suffers from today. “I’ve learned 25 to 50 percent of those who had polio when younger develop post polio.” She said that she decided to leave Dunsmuir mainly because of her health problems she believes is connected to this disease.

“My family wants me to be closer, and I want to be closer to them,” she said. “So that’s what I’m going to do.