Richard Lee (Rick) Crawford passed away peacefully, surrounded by many friends and the “love of his life”, JR, on Monday, July 18, 2022, in Amarillo, Texas. Rick was 71 years old and was born on March 6, 1951, in San Antonio, Texas. Rick was a loving husband, an inspirational big brother (to Michael and Stevie), an awesome uncle and a dedicated and loyal friend to so many people that knew him. But Rick’s greatest legacy was his lifelong love for, and devotion to, the State of Texas.
Rick spent the first few years of early childhood in Fort Worth, until his family moved to Amarillo in the summer of 1959. Rick attended Olsen Park Elementary, Crockett Junior High and Tascosa High School. Rick was not only an outstanding football player, but he was always one of the team leaders. Those leadership qualities easily transferred into his personal life, his social activities and all of his many friendships. Simply put, Rick was a natural born leader and as a young man, “Ricky” Crawford was cool.
After high school, Rick attended the University of Texas at Austin, where he became a member of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity and obtained his Texas Real Estate License, which he used to work his way through school. Rick had a great devotion for his SAE fraternity brothers and “all things” Texas. Rick loved his time in Austin and enjoyed the University of Texas so much, he managed to stay in school, beyond the traditional timeframe. Rick graduated in 1976 with a Bachelor of Business Administration, with emphasis in Real Estate and Finance. After graduating, Rick returned to Amarillo and started his very successful career in the commercial real estate business, where he spent the next 12 years.
In 1988, Rick’s life changed forever, when he met an amazing lady named JR and decided to run for the Texas House of Representatives, District 87. After winning the election, Rick returned to Austin, as State Representative Richard Crawford, in January of 1989 and began the first of his two terms representing his District, which was comprised of Potter County. During his time in the Legislature, he co-sponsored and successfully passed a number of pro-business bills, including the Worker’s Compensation Reform Bill, and later, he co-authored the Wilson-Crawford Bill, which established the Texas Lottery. It didn’t take long for Rick to become well very known and highly respected in the hallways of the State Capitol and on the House Floor.
Rick decided not to run for a third term, and in 1993 he became Special Assistant to House Speaker James E. “Pete” Laney, where he oversaw the $192 million Capitol Restoration project on behalf of the House of Representatives. In that role, he also coordinated and monitored legislative affairs and acted as the Speaker’s representative on the Texas Bond Review Board. In 1995, Rick became the Executive Director of the Texas State Preservation Board (Chaired by then Governor George W. Bush), which was charged with the planning, design, development and operation of the $78 million Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum. Rick held that position until 2003 and managed multiple Capitol projects, including the South Capitol Grounds Project and the re-development of the Capitol’s Parking System. Rick loved his 15-years of service to the State of Texas.
Rick moved back to Amarillo in 2003 and returned to the commercial real estate business, where he spent the last 19 years. On August 8, 2003, Rick married Janis Wilson in Santa Fe, New Mexico, which allowed many of his friends and family members to finally know JR’s real name. Rick and JR enjoyed many years “at home” in Amarillo and were members of the First Presbyterian Church. Rick and JR relished spending time with family and friends over food, drinks and spirited conversation. They shared their love for the Texas Longhorn’s and never missed a big game. Although, no longer employed by the State of Texas, Rick remained involved with both state and local political issues. Rick was an active member of the Amarillo Association of Realtors and several commercial real estate trade groups.
Rick was preceded in death by his parents, Jack and Dolores Crawford; his admired step-father, Paul Johnson of Dumas; step-brothers Johnny and Scott Johnson. Rick is survived by his devoted wife JR Wilson; his brother Michael and his wife Barbara; his brother Steve and his wife Lynn; sister-in-law Carol; brother-in-law Charley; step-sister Paula; nephews Stephen, Chase and Eric; nieces Courtney, Caley and Sarah and more than a dozen great-nieces and nephews.
A celebration of Rick’s life will be held at the First Presbyterian Church, at 1100 S. Harrison in Amarillo at 10:00 a.m. on Monday, July 25, 2022. A reception at the church will follow the service and a brief graveside service will be held thereafter at Llano Cemetery.
In lieu of flowers, a memorial donation may be made, in Rick’s memory, to the St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital, the American Cancer Society or the High Plains Food Bank.