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Honoring a father

Local resident sponsors Leetonia scholarship in memory of dad

Salem Community Foundation Vice President Robert McCulloch, Salem resident Floyd Crawford, Leetonia High School guidance counselor Mary Rice and SCF President John Tonti gather to celebrate the establishment of a fund for Leetonia students in memory of Crawford’s father, Daniel, a Leetonia native son. (Salem News photo by Mary Ann Greier)

SALEM — Salem resident Floyd Crawford wanted to honor his late father, Daniel, in a special way for the centennial of his 1921 birth.

Knowing his father’s fondness for his hometown of Leetonia, Floyd established a fund in his name to help Leetonia students, donating $1,000 for each year in recognition of what would have been his 100th birthday year, for a total of $100,000.

“He would be tickled pink to be helping out the kids in Leetonia,” Floyd said during a recent interview.

Floyd grew up in Salem, graduating from Salem High School in 1969, but recalled visiting his grandparents, Patrick Floyd Crawford and Margaret Lavelle Crawford, at their home in Leetonia when he was growing up.

“Leetonia to me was always such a tight-knit community. I always had a fondness for Leetonia,” he said.

Daniel K. Crawford, Leetonia High School Class of 1940. (Photo provided by Floyd Crawford)

He remembered when he was little how his grandpa was involved in the community, how he was a precinct committeeman and a grand knight with the Knights of Columbus at St. Patrick Church.

He even remembered Congressman Wayne Hays showing up at his grandpa’s house for a visit. His grandfather worked at Republic Steel and used to catch the train in Leetonia to go to work. His great-grandfather, John Crawford, worked at the coke ovens in Leetonia.

Floyd’s father graduated from Leetonia High School in 1940 and eventually ended up in Salem. At his death in 1998, he was living in Warren, but Floyd said “his heart was always in Leetonia.”

He had been thinking about setting up some type of fund for a quite a while to honor his memory and chose to go through the Salem Community Foundation. Robert McCulloch, the SCF Vice President, was a classmate and friend.

SCF President John Tonti said the fund will be known as the Daniel K. Crawford Memorial Scholarship Fund and will benefit deserving Leetonia students in grades 9-12, either as a scholarship for graduating seniors or award for underclassmen.

The group is still working on defining the parameters, but Tonti said the first award or scholarship will be given in spring 2022. The SCF will work with Leetonia school officials to identify students for nomination, then applications will be reviewed by the SCF Scholarship Committee.

Mary Rice, who serves as the guidance counselor for grades 7-12 at Leetonia High School, oversees the district’s scholarship program.

She called the gift “very generous and wonderful. There’s a strong need.”

Generosity from Leetonia families is how most of their scholarships have come to be. She said there are 35 local scholarships given to Leetonia students, which is a lot for a small community. Last year, that amounted to $65,000 in scholarships.

“The need is there. A lot of those kids depend on those scholarships,” Rice said.

“Let’s help them,” Floyd said.

To learn more about creating a scholarship fund, either as a way to help students or memorialize a loved one, please call the Salem Community Foundation office at 330-332-4021.

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