Leave it to Bill Crews to die on Easter Sunday! Liturgy was life to him and his final act was also his final sermon, making clear to us all of his belief that there IS life after death and he was moving on to what he joyfully referred to as “…the great by and by.”
Easter Sunday, April 9th 2023, the Rev. William (Bill) Eugene Crews completed his journey on Earth.
Bill was born to Ira and Ruth (Simril) Crews on December, 20, 1933, in Tulsa, Oklahoma, the youngest of 4 brothers. Curious, intelligent, generous, he was drawn to serve others and, as a young teenager, became involved at Trinity Episcopal Church in Tulsa where he was mentored by the Rev. Dr. Edward Eckel. The seed planted there would flourish throughout the next seventy years.
He studied economics at Oklahoma University and (much to his parent’s consternation!) went on to seminary and earned his M.Div. degree from Church Divinity School of the Pacific in 1958.
Before he left for seminary, a friend set him up on a blind date with the captivating Ann Hanson of Wichita, Kansas. They corresponded for a time while she finished school, reuniting in San Francisco during his time in seminary. Their 64 years of marriage resulted in two children, Emily Barkley (Bill) Peterson and Tim (Sarah) Crews and 5 grandchildren: Nick, Paul and Sarah Barkley, Ruby and Claire Crews.
Bill put his whole heart into forming and building vibrant Episcopal congregations in New Mexico, Arizona, Kansas and Colorado. He was a thoughtful and insightful preacher who challenged his congregants to ask questions and get a little uncomfortable while deepening their faith. His pivotal work with the Colorado Episcopal Foundation was also a source of great pride for him.
Bill never shied away from a difficult task and was capable of building and fixing just about anything. He oversaw the construction of several houses and helped build the two houses on the homestead in Cannon Falls, MN., where he lived for the last 7 years of his life. He loved the country life and family gatherings. He especially enjoyed talking with his grandchildren whom he wholeheartedly supported in their endeavors.
Apart from his love of teaching in the church he enjoyed many hobbies. He loved gardening, genealogy and sailing. But, let’s be honest. He hated retirement. He was a priest to his core and not having that role was a challenge.
His final years were a struggle against the ravages of Alzheimer’s disease, but for much of his last year he settled into a gentle, loving and affectionate place of peace.
A memorial service will be held at St. John the Baptist Episcopal Church in Minneapolis (4201 Sheridan Ave. S.) on Saturday, April 22 at 11:00AM.
In lieu of flowers the family asks for memorial donations to be sent to two organizations that meant a lot to Bill.
Friends of San Lucas San Lucas Mission
The Land Institute Land Institute