A Tribute to Dr. Harold R. Crawford

Picture of Dr. Harold CrawfordHarold Crawford, 95, retired Iowa State University agricultural education and studies professor, died May 27, 2020. Crawford (’50 ag and life sciences education, ’55 MS, ’69 PhD) joined the faculty of the Department of Agricultural Education and Studies in 1965. He went on to serve as department chair and College of Agriculture and Life Sciences associate dean and director of international agricultural programs.

Crawford is remembered for living his teaching philosophy: “Teaching is to serve, to serve is to give and to give is to live.” He is renowned in the industry as a passionate educator and innovative leader. His service earned him the Iowa State Outstanding International Service Award; Alumni Medal for Distinguished Service; College of Agriculture and Life "Teaching is to serve, to serve is to give and to give is to live."Sciences George Washington Carver Distinguished Service Award; and the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Regional, State and National Association of Agricultural Educators.

In 2011, the Harold and Rachel Crawford Agricultural Teacher Education Complex in Curtiss Hall was dedicated.

Alumni and friends may share memories of Crawford by submitting online tributes via this form. Gifts to the Dr. Harold R. Crawford Memorial Fund are accepted online by including Crawford’s name in the “Honorary and Memorial Gifts” notation space.


(Tributes were collected from Crawford’s online obituary and Facebook.)


“It was with deep sadness that I just learned of Harold’s death. Harold was by far the most important and most influential teacher I ever had. In 1961 he saved me from a year of taking shop and introduced me to the world of farming, business, debate, parliamentary procedure, public speaking, leadership, and a lot more that I cannot even begin to remember. Were it not for Harold, I would never have been motivated to become a lawyer and move from Iowa to Washington DC for my entire adult life. (Don’t blame him for my being a lawyer, he just laid the groundwork). We left Sac City the same year to go to Ames. I had seen him often since then. Obviously, he stayed to be one of the most prominent and influential educators that ISU has had. ‘The bottom line is I owe my career and my adult life to the start that he gave me. I never properly thanked him, but I think he knew. There are many of us who will miss him. My sincere condolences to Rachel, Reid, Bob, and David.” – Gene Lange (’69 modern language and government)


“I was fortunate to have Dr. Crawford as my professor in several undergraduate and graduate Agricultural Education classes at ISU. There is no doubt that any success I had as an Agriculture Education high school teacher and University Ag Education professor was greatly influenced by Dr. Crawford’s creativity, energy and enthusiasm, and his love and respect for each student. When I returned to Iowa State for my PhD in Ag Education, he was my major professor. I was thankful for the opportunity to learn from one of “The BEST”. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the Crawford family at this time of loss. I’m confident Dr. Crawford would want us all to celebrate his long and productive life. Thank you, Dr. Crawford, for the “mentoring”!”– Doug Pals(’68 ag and life sciences education, ’75 MS, ’77 PhD)  and Diana Pals (’77 PhD ag and life sciences education)


“I have so many memories, I don’t even know where to begin. Dr. Crawford and Dr.Briers were recruiting at Starmont High School one day. Dr. Crawford said, “So I hear you like to talk and tell people what to do, you should be an Ag Teacher.” That’s all it took. I have the highest respect for this man. He dedicated his life to making the best better and making the mediocre great. I am caught saying that high school ag is not just “Sows, plows, and hay mows”, or maybe another favorite, “A good teacher doesn’t just blow in, blow out, and blow off, they nurture and direct”. One day right before class I noticed that Dr. Crawford’s tie was a bit off to one side. I grabbed his tie, straightened it, and said you have to look your best Dr. Crawford when you are teaching. That day became something that I did all the way up to his retirement. He would give me that little smirk, and say, well how do I look. It’s hard to put into words how lucky we were to have Dr. Crawford and company mold us into Agriculture Teachers. I will always cherish that, and also the times I sat around the table in recent years at the Advising Academy and listened to Dr. Crawford’s wisdom. When I received the college advising award, the first person I thought of was Dr. Crawford…this is a big deal, Dr. Crawford earned this award. I also had the opportunity to work with Tribal Community Colleges with Dr. Crawford and Paula. What a passion he had for those colleges and people. Rest in Peace Dr. Crawford. You have been an inspiration and a mentor. Your service is done on Earth, now for your Heavenly deeds. Until we meet again.”– Barb Streicher Clawson (’83 ag and life sciences education, ’88 MS)


“I really enjoyed my interactions with Dr. Crawford during my time at ISU. I still remember all of the questions he asked me during my interview that really made me think about the direction I wanted to go with my career. I’m sure he will be missed on campus.”– Ryan Anderson


“An absolute treasure at the college of ag! He was my dad’s favorite professor when he attended ISU. So, while we were on campus for my freshman orientation, my dad & I walked into Curtiss and found Dr. Crawford. He remembered my dad like the 31 years hadn’t passed. Dr. Crawford made my 18-year-old nerves at ease that day & told me to stop into his office if I ever needed anything. I stopped by frequently to just say hi! He will be greatly missed!!”– Megan Irlbeck (’04 ag and life sciences education)


“An absolute legend in Iowa Ag Education.”– Bret Spurgin (’11 ag and life sciences education)


“Dr. Crawford was one of the giants of our profession.”– Rob Terry (Department Head, Oklahoma State University, Department of Agricultural Education and Leadership)


“I am so sorry to hear of Dr. Crawford’s passing. He was a great and knowledgeable man. I remember him fondly and treasure a few experiences I had working on grants with him.”– Christa DalMolin


“He was an inspiration to so many. A true legend.”– Brad Taylor (’78 ag and life sciences education, ’00 MS professional ag)


“ A true gentleman and scholar!!”– Antoine Alston (’00 PhD ag education and studies)


“So incredibly sad to hear this news. So many amazing memories working with him during my 5 years at Iowa State. He was the best!! Just an incredible man. He will be so missed. What a life he had.”– Carrie Brus


“The Ag Education community lost a giant. HRC was a special man. I was a wide-eyed freshman at Iowa State in the fall of 1999. I needed a work-study job and HRC needed a student worker. Little did I know everything I would learn from him. We traveled to tribal colleges, I tried to keep his office organized (and attempted to get him to learn the filing system) but mostly I just enjoyed the time I had with him. He always gave me a hard time because I changed up my hairstyles on him frequently. He quickly learned that if my hair was curly…it meant I was feisty. It’s only appropriate that I’ve got my hair curly today. This man will be missed by so many.”– Holly Kasperbauer (’03 ag and life sciences education)


“He was a national influence in agricultural education and always a gentleman. For a few years, ISU and Dr. Crawford were about synonymous.”– Jasper S. Lee (author and formerly agricultural education faculty at Virginia Tech and Mississippi State University)


“Dr. Crawford was an icon in our profession when I joined the faculty in the early 80s. I love his motto and am humbled by his lifetime commitment and service.”– Ed Osborne (Professor and former Chair, University of Florida, Department of Agricultural Education and Communication)