Local woman remembered for charitable tradition

Brett Berntsen
Irma "Jean" Crawford's daughter Rhonda DiMartino and grandson Dalton DiMartino talk during a memorial service for Crawford Friday at the Mountain Vista Baptist Church in Farmington.

FARMINGTON – Community members brought toys rather than flowers to the Mountain Vista Baptist Church on Friday to honor the legacy of a local woman who died last week.

Irma “Jean” Crawford, 68, was known among friends and family members for her generosity, most notably an 18-year tradition of donating toys and stuffed animals to children in need. People attending the ceremony carried on Crawford’s altruistic spirit, packing the church stage with teddy bears, model cars and bicycles.

Members of the Farmington Fire Department were at the service to load the donations into a fire truck. Capt. Jacob Crane said firefighters always keep several stuffed animals in their vehicles to help calm traumatized children.

“When we go out on a call, it’s often somebody’s worst day,” Crane said. “It’s a great feeling to give these toys to kids and make their day just a little better.”

The program serves as a reminder of Crawford's kindness, her daughter Rhonda DiMartino said.

“She welcomed everyone,” DiMartino said. “I’m always surprised when I meet someone here who didn’t know her.”

Farmington Fire Department Capt. Jacob Crane talks about Irma "Jean" Crawford's habit of donating stuffed animals for traumatized children during her memorial service Friday at the Mountain Vista Baptist Church in Farmington.

Crawford moved to Farmington in 1981 and raised her three children near Westland Park. She was active in the youth baseball community, serving as president of the HomeRunners Club and managing the snack bar at Ricketts Field. Her son Keith Crawford said she was also instrumental in erecting the “High School State Baseball Champions” sign at the Farmington city limits.

“At games, mom was nonstop,” Crawford said. “I never heard any other voices, and there were thousands of people there.”

Her remarks weren’t always directed at the players, either.

“She would always sit right behind me, yelling and complaining,” said Larry Pixley, a former umpire at the games. “Then afterwards she would say, ‘You did a great job, darling.’”

Pixley said even though things got a little heated when it came to sports, at the end of the day, they were one big family.

“We did have fun,” he said. “She was one special person.”

Pastor Mark Maule presides over a memorial service Friday for Irma "Jean" Crawford at the Mountain Vista Baptist Church in Farmington.

Pastor Mark Maule, who presided over Friday’s ceremony, lived down the street from Crawford in Westland Park. Maule said Crawford’s house was the pillar of the neighborhood, and he often turned to her for advice in his own life.

Maule said the show of people and donations at Crawford's memorial provided a testament to how great a person she was.

“Even though she’s gone, her life and memories will live on forever,” Maule said.

Brett Berntsen covers government for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4606.