Cover photo for Robert Larry Crawford's Obituary
Robert Larry Crawford Profile Photo

Robert Larry Crawford

June 24, 1945 — April 15, 2024

Sylva

Robert Larry Crawford

Larry Crawford died on the morning of April 15, 2024, after a period of declining health.

Larry was the youngest child of the late Robert Glenn and Hazel Norman Crawford. He was a lifelong resident of Jackson County except for a brief time when he lived in Rome, Georgia, where he taught History and German at Coosa Valley High School. Thereafter, his professional years were primarily spent teaching World History and Religion to students at Sylva Webster and Smoky Mountain High Schools. He loved teaching and loved his students. Many have shared stories of his stern classroom management followed by how he was their favorite teacher. He was a great storyteller and had a unique and thoughtful delivery of the facts.

In addition to his chosen career as an educator, Larry was a passionate genealogist. He was fascinated to learn why families in Western North Carolina settled along the creeks, in the hollows, and on the ridge tops of Jackson and surrounding counties. He was a founding member of the Jackson County Genealogy Society and worked tirelessly with his sisters, cousins, and friends to map the kinship of the local people lucky to call the Blue Ridge Mountains home. He had an encyclopedic knowledge of how the families were knitted together. Larry was eager to travel the country in search of some missing piece of information. He really enjoyed his trips out west to Darrington, Washington, to see family who originated from Jackson County. Larry started the publication, “Journeys Through Jackson” in 1991 and served as editor until 2014. Journeys received state recognition for Excellence in Genealogy publications.  Larry and cousin, Bill Crawford, received the Award of Excellence for their Macon County Cemetery book in 2012. In 2014, a scholarship to honor Larry was established with the Genealogy Society for a graduating senior from Smoky Mountain High School to assist with first year college expenses.

Larry graduated from Sylva High School in 1963. He attended Western Carolina University and graduated in 1968 with two bachelor’s degrees in history and German. Larry had a great experience in college and left Western with lifelong friends from his fraternity. He was a founding member of Western’s chapter of Pi Kappa Phi, member number 8 and served as Chapter President before graduation. Larry returned to WCU for post-graduate study in History as well. Larry looked forward to visiting with his fraternity brothers, having them over to his house, and telling old stories of their time together.

Larry loved to read, take long drives to look at our mountains, work in the garden, tend his daylilies, and watch a good movie. He was a lifelong Tarheel Basketball fan and had a sneaky good jump shot. He knew which school belonged to each conference, which made him a sports genealogist. He was a fabulous dancer. Anyone who ever saw him break out in the Shag was impressed. Larry had a large collection of records and 45s. He would play us beach music and oldies on his old record player. He influenced the musical tastes of more than one niece and nephew. Larry marveled at and admired the talents of his family members. His support and acknowledgement of those talents helped to build our confidence and communicate his affection. Larry especially loved to tell old family stories. Slow was his delivery, and interrupting his train of thought was, at times, met with a huff and a growl. The end of a story was usually reserved for his warm and pleasant smile followed by the conclusion and deep and joyous laughter.

Larry is survived by his two older sisters, Ruth Crawford Shuler and Jean Crawford Brown (Manley). In addition to his parents, Larry was preceded in death by one brother-in-law, Lee Roy Shuler. Also surviving are Larry’s six nieces and nephews: Kim Shuler (Sam), Risa Cheney (David), David Shuler (Pam), Philip Brown (Julie), Kathleen Pierce (Josh), and Matthew Brown (Megan) as well as many great nieces and nephews.

Our dear younger brother, beloved uncle, friend, and teacher will be missed. Our small community was made better by his choice to live and educate others here. Larry did not like attention and would dismiss his accomplishments and impact on his students and the community. His family would agree that his was a life well-lived and lived on his own terms. He was important to many, respected, and loved. Larry was a member of the Mount Pleasant Baptist Church, where his grandfather, father, and uncles created the barrel-vaulted ceiling in the sanctuary.

A special thanks to Bryson Senior Living, the nursing staff at Swain Community Hospital, and Four Seasons Hospice for their care of Larry in his final time with us.

The Family will have a visitation from Noon to 2 PM on Saturday, April 27 with a Celebration of Life to immediately follow at Appalachian Funeral Home.

In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to the Robert Larry Crawford Scholarship at the Jackson County Genealogy Society, PO Box 480, Sylva, NC 28779.
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Past Services

Visitation

Saturday, April 27, 2024

12:00 - 2:00 pm (Eastern time)

Appalachian Funeral Services

165 Skyland Drive, Sylva, NC 28779

Enter your phone number above to have directions sent via text. Standard text messaging rates apply.

Celebration of Life

Saturday, April 27, 2024

2:00 - 3:00 pm (Eastern time)

Appalachian Funeral Services

165 Skyland Drive, Sylva, NC 28779

Enter your phone number above to have directions sent via text. Standard text messaging rates apply.

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