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William Henry Crane

July 26, 1954 - January 10, 2022
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Elise Crane

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Posted by:

Elise Crane

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William Henry Crane

July 26, 1954 - January 10, 2022

William ("Bill") Henry Crane Jr. passed away peacefully on January 10, 2022, in Charlottesville, Virginia, from complications related to lung disease. He was 67 years old and his death leaves a gaping hole in the lives of those who loved him.
 
Bill was an explorer, a music lover, and a devoted husband, father, son, brother, nephew, uncle, cousin, and friend. He hated to cause any inconvenience and valued love, consideration, and reliability above all else.
 
Bill was born on July 26, 1954, in Richmond, Virginia, to William Henry ("Hank") Crane Sr. and Anne Boyd ("Abie") Crane. Soon after his birth, the family returned to the Congo, where Hank and Abie served as Presbyterian missionaries. Bill's Tshiluban name was "Ngalamulume," which translates to "boy after three girls," or as Hank joked, "a blessing after three curses." Billy's youthful misadventures, including jumping off the garage roof with an umbrella as a parachute and diving into a shallow pool, led to many harrowing moments for his parents but also priceless stories for decades to come.
 
Bill's childhood in Africa instilled in him a great respect for and curiosity about the world. From multi-day Boy Scout expeditions with only a compass and a knife to high school in Geneva to a land surveying career that included overseas stints in the Middle East, Africa, the Caribbean, and Oceania, to love that brought him to Ukraine for the last years of his life, Bill was always up for an adventure.
 
Bill loved good music and delighted in driving an open road with his favorite artists cranked high. He successfully steered his daughters away from boy bands and toward classic rock, including by taking them to Rolling Stones and Eric Clapton concerts on multiple continents. He and his wife, Tanya, shared a love of jazz music; their first date was at a jazz club and they spent many happy days relaxing to their favorite tunes.
 
Bill was the ultimate fixer. When a loved one was in trouble, whether big or small and no matter how far away, Bill always came to the rescue and made everything ok. He was a rock in his daughters' and wife's lives and will be desperately missed.
 
Bill is survived by his wife, Tanya; daughters Elise (Andy) and Sierra (Caleb); stepdaughter Uly; stepson Alex; grandchildren Oliver and Thea; sisters Anne (Sarah), Carolyn, and Charlotte (Carl); nephews Brian (Gayathri), Ryan (Sarah), Luke (Alicia), Will, Kevin, Sean, Max, and Alex; nieces Caitlin (Portman), Itayi, Jenny, Camryn (Carson), and Kynna; great-nephews Roman, Wyatt, Jaiman, Milan, Patton, and Miles; great-nieces Harper, Charlie, Ada, Evelyn, Leela, Hadley, Ellie, Elliott, and Millie; many cousins and second cousins; and beloved dogs Mary and Edith. He is preceded in death by his father, Hank, and his mother, Abie, who will be glad to see Bill at peace and no longer jumping off roofs.
 
For those he leaves behind, Bill/Dad/Grandpa/Uncle Beel's premature death is a shock and an indescribable loss. His legacy of kindness, consideration, and devotion will live on in his descendants, including his two grandchildren due in the coming weeks. He will be forever missed.

Those wishing to make a donation in Bill's honor could consider the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS), which launched his career in land surveying; the IPF Foundation; the ACLU; or the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF). 
 
We will share information shortly with family and friends about a virtual celebration of life, tentatively scheduled to be held via Zoom on Saturday, January 22nd at 12 pm EST.

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$600 raised of $1,000 goal
Donate to National Outdoor Leadership School in honor of William Crane
  • Anonymous
    $100 • about 18 hours
  • Anonymous
    $200 • 1 day
  • Morna Ballantyne
    $58 • 2 days
  • Anonymous
    $105 • 3 days
  • Carl Thiermann
    $58 • 4 days
  • Elise Crane
    $100 • 4 days
Condolences 6

Joshua Landers I first met Bill in Weatherford, Oklahoma in the fall of 1998 while we both were working at Veritas DGC. It was just a quick introduction, as I was headed out for time-off and he was just passing through (probably picking up gear for his crew). It wasn’t until the year 2000 in Moab, Utah that I first gotten a chance to know him. He was the senior surveyor and was helping a young survey manager(me) by running and processing control on the Potash 3D. He amazed me with how much he knew and understood about survey, and maybe seemed out of place a little. For within our industry, we are typically comprised of individuals that basically, weren’t the sharpest and probably had an average industry- working-life-span of just a few years. Bill was intelligent, well spoken, friendly, and for a guy 19 years his junior, had been around forever. For me, it was clear that he was the type of surveyor that I could wish to become. A working friendship was forged, and he became my mentor. Bill answered countless questions, phone calls, and emails for the next dozen years. He always answered, never seemed rushed, and always seemed genuinely interested in providing much needed assistance. I think he may have found gratification in making people less ignorant. For this, I will be forever grateful. He was responsible for bringing me over to Extreme Surveys around 2002, where we worked together until around 2012. During this time, we developed an esprit de corps as we traveled the United States (and Canada), lived in 1-star hotels, celebrated birthdays, cooked-out, and had many truck-stop-Thanksgiving-dinners together. I got to hear first-hand his cool stories, legend rock concerts he attended, boy scouting in Africa, B-side songs I’ve never heard (usually by bands that I’ve only heard the popular or hit songs of), record-setting-high-jumping in Switzerland (my favorite by the way-I mean C’mon…Bill?), and all of the much cooler places that he had been than were we had gotten to work. Bill spoke of his amazing daughters often; their accomplishments and achievements never went unspoken. I don’t know that he deserves all the credit, but from knowing Bill, of course his kids are smart, intelligent, gifted, and talented. For this is how they were conveyed to us who knew him, not only by his words, but by the manner in which was spoken of them. For this, I’m thankful to his family for sharing him with us. Personally, I’m eternally thankful for our time shared, our friendship, and lessons and teachings which were imparted on me. The confident, patient, and friendly way he had in me was like that of a father or older brother. I regret not having the chance to tell this to him in person. Some mundane tasks or trivial things such as proper file structure, metric tape measures, and equipment care will live on through those of us that knew Bill and his propensities. Stories will be told with fondness, and with a deep respectful admiration. I’ll continue to use the words or phrases that I heard him say the most, in his memory. For he will be missed, but not forgotten. XOXO
2 days ago

Tim Gillen
2 days ago

Tim Gillen I had the pleasure of sitting along side Bill for close to 15 years of our lives. Whether it be in the office processing data or traveling the lower 48 and Alaska Bill and I made a great team. I met Bill in Rock Springs Wyoming back in 1997 on the Haystacks 3D when I was just turning 20 years old. I liked Bill from the start. I was a young buck looking for confidence and direction and I remember him treating me with a level of respect that for the first time made me feel a certain level of accomplishment as a surveyor as he had heard of me and the production I was capable of adding to his Veritas Survey Crew while on loan to him from Extreme Surveys. It was not too long after that meeting that Bill would join me at Extreme Surveys and our good friend Josh Landers would follow shortly after. It was at this point that I became Bill's right hand man and he became my Mentor for many years to come. In 2008 work was scarce in the Seismic world and I was once again back in Rock Springs Wyoming doin some coal mine subsidence work when I got a call from Bill telling me that Rick Irving had contacted him and wanted him to start, manage and form a Survey Crew at Geokinetics and stated "Are you in? I can't do it without you" and the rest is history. Bill and I were a force to me wreckoned with for many more years. Bill had a very kind heart, he was a good friend, teacher and father figure to me and many other surveyors in the seismic industry. I can honestly say that every bit of success I have had in my life, from a proffesional standpoint; I achieved through the knowledge that Bill was kind enough to share with me and the data processing and management skills he was patient enough to teach me. He has without a doubt played a huge part in the making of the man I am today and has set the standard for the man I want to be tomorrow. The last time I spoke to Bill was about 2 yrs ago when I was letting him know that I was applying for a position at Trimble Navigation and someone would be contacting him as he was the main point of reference on my resume. He chuckled and said I will be looking forward to the call and he was very excited for me. A few days later I signed an offer letter and have been working for Trimble ever since.. Sadly, I was not able to sincerely thank him for that reference or for all the success he has brought to my life... So for what it's worth... From the bottom of my heart.. Thank you Bill you will always have a spot in my heart and will always be a thought in my mind. I feel it necessary to make sure that Bills Daughter's know how incredibly proud he was of you. He would literally start glowing when speaking of you both.. You were his pride and Joy and always a topic of conversation during our travels across the country and I enjoyed every minute of those conversations. I like to think that he is as proud of me but in somewhat of a different light. My thoughts and prayers go out to Bills 2 Daughters and the rest of your family including Bill's Wife whom I never had the privilege of meeting. God Bless. In closing, to my Mentor and Dear Friend Bill... Thanks again for everything.. you will be missed and never forgotten... Much Love and Rest Well My Friend... Cheers, "TG"
2 days ago

Jim Piggott I met Bill in the late 90's working in the oil fields of Texas. Bill and I spent years working together all over the country and he was a mentor to me. I'm thankful to have shared those times with him. I had the honor of seeing Eric Clapton and BB King with him! He often stopped by my office in Longmont for visits and a burrito. Bill was cool, hard working, super smart, and an excellent friend. I had been thinking of him lately and wished I had the opportunity to say goodbye. I'll meet you at the EOL for a cold one and a nice dinner, you bring the tunes! RIP brother.
3 days ago

Anne Crane Dear Bill, If anyone in this restless, on-the-move family could be described as a citizen of the world, you truly fit that description. Some of us, after a period of moving from place to place, eventually established firm roots in a local community and settled down. Sort of. Your community of friends and family is dispersed across several continents, as are all the places that have had special meaning to you: the savannas of central Africa, the Swiss Alps, the rugged Colorado Rockies, the Alaska Range, the ancient Appalachians and most recently, a certain beautiful place in western Ukraine. Your very first long journey was made in utero. Conceived in the Congo, you were a large bump in Mom’s belly in 1954 when we flew from Kananga to Kinshasa on a two engine Sabena passenger plane. After a few days we went on to Accra, where we visited Uncle Roy and his family, then to Paris for a couple of days. That’s where the incident with a helium balloon first made me conscious that Mom was carrying a baby in her belly. I guess we had gone into a shop that carried maternity clothes, and when we left, the sales lady gave us kids a balloon that carried the name of the shop emblazoned with the words, “Tout pour la future maman.” As one who never wanted to draw attention to herself, Mom was embarrassed to be a walking advertisement for a shop that advertised “everything for the expectant mother.” We hurried back to the hotel, and she wouldn’t let us carry the balloon outside our room any more, not even this very special helium balloon that stayed in the air. On July 26, 1954, not long after we got to Richmond, your were born at St. Luke’s Hospital. Your life’s journey began in earnest then, and you’ve been traveling ever since. I’ll never forget how excited I was to have a baby brother - finally - and how happy I was to cuddle and play with you throughout that first year of your life. Changing your diapers - not so much - but I was more of an observer than a participant in that chore. A year later, when our family returned to the Congo on the Belgian freighter, the S. S. Tervate, at age nine I was the eldest of a bunch of missionary children on that ship, and you were the youngest. Fortunately, the captain had seen to it that the open railings around the entire passenger deck were covered with chicken wire, so that none of the children would fall overboard. You were just beginning to take your first steps, and Mom joked that you literally walked across the Atlantic Ocean with either Dad or her holding on to you, swaying with the motion of the ship as it plowed through the waves. When we arrived in the Congo, you were welcomed enthusiastically by all our Congolese friends and were given the Tshiluba name traditionally given to a boy born after three girls, Ngalamulume. During the next four years you and two of your older sisters, Carolyn and Charlotte, played with your Congolese friends and enjoyed family vacations at Lake Munkamba. I missed out on a lot of those experiences, as I was away at boarding school, except for vacation times, so I don’t have very many clear memories of you in those years. You were five years old in 1959 when we went back to Richmond for another furlough. We took a river boat down the Congo River and crossed the Atlantic again in another Belgian freighter. That was the trip when Dad ordered some strong cheese after a meal, and when the waiter put it down on the table near you, you sniffed the air and loudly declared, “Shomebody shtinksh!”, a phrase that became part of the family lexicon and a cause for laughter for years after that. You were making us laugh at an early age! That was also the trip when you and Charlotte disappeared one day, and when Mom ran out on the deck calling for you, the captain’s wife leaned over the railing on the upper deck to say that you were floating a toy boat in the captain’s bathtub. Mom was, of course, mortified, but Madame assured her that she had invited you into their cabin. That year, 1959-’60, we lived in Richmond for a year, then in Lamesa, Texas as we waited for the post-independence chaos in the Congo to calm down. When we finally returned to the Congo just before Christmas to join Dad, who had preceded us, our flight from Brussels made a brief stopover in Khartoum. As we sat in the airport lounge and drank lemonade, you wrote a post card to Granddaddy Cleveland back in Lamesa. You were just beginning to read and write that year, and had been introduced to the basal readers we all used in those days. The main characters in the stories were Dick and Jane and their dog Tip. Sitting in the Khartoum airport in the middle of the Sahara Desert, you made a profound observation and shared it in the post card, “Dear Granddaddy, Tip is not here. Love, Billy.” While we lived in Lubumbashi for the next seven months, you and Charlotte continued your education in the local public school, switching suddenly from English to French. You survived and were probably better off for that experience. When we picked up and moved again in 1961, we all had to make another big cultural adjustment for the fourth time in a year, as we continued our education in British colonial schools in Northern Rhodesia. There you eventually joined the Boy Scouts and had adventures that prepared you well for a life in the great outdoors, learning skills that undoubtedly helped you in your long career as a surveyor. Again I missed most of those years with the family, as I went to Texas to finish high school and university. You all came back to the US in 1964 for a short furlough, and you again transitioned into a new school and culture for a few months before returning to a now independent Zambia for three more years. In 1968 you came back to Texas for a few months, then moved to Switzerland, where you entered the International School, plunging into a new curriculum and a new culture. Again. At Ecolint you formed most of the strong friendships that have endured to this day. What a gift those friends have been! And how fortunate that you could live with Phil Mellen’s family and graduate from Ecolint after Dad died. When you eventually returned to the U.S., after about a year of trying to find your way in this American culture that had never defined you, you found a job as a lowly lineman on a survey crew with the Virginia Dept. of Transportation. This experience and a few months trekking around the mountains of Colorado, Wyoming and Nevada with the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) launched you into a lifelong career as a surveyor. As you worked your way up the ladder and learned new technical skills, you were on the road much of the time, taking jobs all over the western states, including Alaska, and around the world - in Pakistan, Oman, Chad, Argentina, Australia, and on an oil rig in the gulf of Mexico, to name a few places. I’ll never forget being totally surprised by a phone call from you one day. “Where are you calling from?” I asked. “I’m in Chad in the middle of the Sahara Desert, and I’m calling you on a cell phone. It’s a new kind of phone that isn’t connected to a land line.” That was my introduction to cell phones. During those years you met Sharon and expanded the family with two lovely daughters, Elise and Sierra. All that traveling and moving around must have been hard on the family, just as Dad’s long stretches away from home posed challenges for us, but I know you were a proud dad who did all you could to provide for your family, and you did a good job! The changes of the past few years, as difficult as they have been, led you to Ukraine and brought Tanya into our ever expanding family. Thank you! We wish the happiness you found with Tanya could have lasted longer. It has been such a beautiful relationship and one that will have enduring memories. And so, little brother, your journey on earth has come to an end, ironically just a short distance from where it began 67 years ago. You fought hard to stick around for a few more years, but your body could no longer hold on to that big generous spirit so full of love and laughter and hope. Wherever this next leg of your journey is taking you now, you must know that you are leaving behind a lot of people who care deeply about you. You have set the bar high, but we will do our best to carry on and to ensure that your grandchildren know about the fascinating life that you have lived and what a kind, funny and loving man you have been. Go in peace, Brother. We miss you, and we will always hold you in our hearts. Love, Annie
4 days ago

Carl Zeithaml Bill was truly kind and gentle, he was a man of peace and humor, and he cared deeply about the world and things in which he believed. More than anything he loved and worshiped his family, his wife (who brought him joy and meaning for the past five years), children (of whom he was so proud), grandchildren (who he was thrilled to meet), sisters (who rallied to support him over recent years), and all members of the large extended family that loved and worshiped him back. He endured his final challenges with serenity, and we all learned from his resilience and quite courage. I was honored to spend time with him, particularly over the past decade, and I am so happy that he spent his final years either with or visiting the family that he loved so much. Although it’s often said, he truly will be missed, but his spirit will live for generations. I know that he will Rest In Peace.
5 days ago

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