It is with great sadness that the family of George Crane announce his death in Weyburn, on July 21, 2012, at the age of 97. George was born to homesteading parents John and Belvia Crane on April 9, 1915. He was the third of eight children, all born in the same room in the family farmhouse located five miles south and one mile west of Weyburn on SE 30-7-14-W2. His brother, John, who died in infancy, and sister, Margaret, were older; Mac, Jean, Mary, Doris and Edna were younger. He was especially close to his brother, Mac, who was only 14 months younger, and who was his constant companion through all the joys and escapades of growing up on a prairie farm in the early decades of the last century. As the sons of the family, George and Mac were expected to help with the daily farming chores as soon as they were able: the start of George’s lifelong love affair with life on the farm. George attended South Weyburn School for eight years but the call of farming was strong. At the age of 13, he quit school and took up his life’s calling for good. His father, having verified that his son’s mind was made up, handed him the reins of an outfit of draft horses and let him go to it. Eighty-four years later, George was still living on the same farm where he was born (now a 110 year old heritage homestead), and still defining himself as a farmer. On November 2, 1940, George married Alicia Thompson in Regina. Alicia had been a teacher at South Weyburn School when romance blossomed. They were married for 59 years before Alicia’s death in 1999 and had four daughters: Karren, Darlene, Kelly and Cheryl. As a farmer, George no doubt hoped that at least one of his children would be a son to carry on the family farm. But he never let his girls feel that they had let him down by the fact of their gender, even if he did call us “Pete, Jimmy, Johnny, Joe” from time to time. And, in his later life, he often said how fortunate he was to have had daughters - perhaps because they increasingly doted on him as he became older, especially after Alicia passed away in 1999 and Kelly moved in with him in 2004. Besides, the male gender eventually became well-represented in the family through grandchildren and great grandchildren. Karren had four children (Shannon, Maureen, Lee, and Erin) and Kelly had two sons, Matt and Chad. It was a source of great satisfaction and enduring happiness to George and Alicia when Kelly and her boys ended up living on a farm just across the road from them, and grandson Chad Crane eventually took over the farm. George’s life revolved around his family, his life as a farmer, and his friends and neighbours. As a farmer, George often marvelled at the changes he witnessed during his long life. He loved recalling how he would walk in his bare feet in the furrows as his father plowed the sod, or how he and Mac would carry the lantern swinging between them as they went to the barn to do the evening chores. He drove big teams of draft horses in the fields and occasionally worked mule teams for a neighbour. He plowed, seeded, stooked, threshed, fixed fences, milked and herded cows. In the tough years of the “Dirty Thirties” he supplemented farm work by being employed to repair and maintain local roads, including Highway 35. He proudly remembered driving a team on dump wagons and road scrapers when he was still in his teens, pulling and piling big rocks that had been dug out of the hill just south of Weyburn. One winter as a young man he worked for a neighbor for $5 a month. In many years, the crops in RM 67 were so bad that the young men of the community, including George, would travel to find farm work wherever they could, “riding the rails” to get from place to place. In 1937, a particularly bad year when there was no crop at all, George and Mac went to Manitoba where they worked on farms all summer. George earned three freight cars of hay for his labour. Anything to help the family get by. As farming technology changed, George progressed from farming with draft horses, when it could take as many as 20 days to plow a 100 acre field, to using tractors that would take only hours to cover that amount of ground. But the tractors of the earlier days were rudimentary compared to the air-conditioned, GPS equipped behemoths of today. His daughters remember this man of the soil coming in from a long day spent cultivating looking like the soil itself - with two blue eyes peering out of a very dirt-blackened face. He would spend many hot summer days haying with a small orange Allis Chambers tractor equipped with only an old yellow sun umbrella to shield him from the sun’s heat. Yet, before he stepped back from active farming at the age of 85, he was riding his John Deere 4440 in air-conditioned comfort. He then progressed to riding a John Deere lawn-mower until he was 95, always doing as much as he could, for as long as he could, to make the farmstead look good. This included, when he was between the ages of 90-92, working with Kelly to plant 500 trees by hand. Fortunately, George was well-equipped for life on a mixed farm. Hard work from a young age, supplemented by avidly playing sports along with Mac in his youth (George was a first rate pitcher and a very good hockey player), made him strong and fit. His daughters remember seeing him carry two 8 gallon cans full of milk from his dairy cattle, one in each hand, with ease. His grandsons and great grandsons remember the firmness and strength of his grip as he taught them the proper way for men to shake hands, with just the right amount of force in the squeeze. Although he was, at heart, a rather shy man, George had many good friends and neighbors through the years and was a well-respected member of the South Weyburn community. He counted himself fortunate to have lived during a time when neighbourliness seems to have meant more than it means today. Farmers knew their neighbours for miles around and often depended on them for help, especially in an emergency. One of the stories George’s daughters most liked to hear was of the time in the late 1940’s when our nearest neighbors, the Monty and Mae Adolphe family, were facing a medical crisis. Their infant son Greg had the croup and they had to get him to Weyburn during a raging blizzard in the middle of the night. The only way to get through was with a team. They telephoned Dad and he rode along with them in the sleigh, getting out frequently to clear the snow out of the horses noses so they could continue through the blinding storm. They made it to town and Greg recovered. Just one example of the kinds of things rural neighbors would do for each other without a second thought. George extended his interest in farming and in serving his community through his involvement with the Weyburn Agricultural Society. He started working at the entrance gates of the Weyburn Fair in the 1930’s and later served on the Cattle Committee, eventually becoming its chairman before acting as the President of the Society from 1968 to 1970. He loved the fact that the society brought together farmers from all the various communities around Weyburn, promoting good fellowship and enabling them to get to know one another better through organizing and holding the annual fair. He was also active in keeping the South Weyburn School alive as a community centre and, although he never attended their meetings, he was a member of the Weyburn Masons for 65 years, paying his dues faithfully in order to support their good works. In later years his love of sports was continued through curling with close friends Murray McFadden and Elton Freeman, and watching baseball and hockey games on TV. Family was always the focal point of George’s life. He cherished his parents and sisters; he treasured his brother, Mac. One of the great tragedies of his life was the loss of Mac, an RCAF bombardier/navigator, in WWII. George paid tribute to Mac by never forgetting him, always talking about him, and making sure that his daughters and grandchildren grew up loving and respecting this man we had never met. An eight year old great grandson named Cooper Mac Crane shows that Mac’s sacrifice will continue to be remembered by another generation. After they were married, George and Alicia worked together to provide for and raise their growing family and to establish a successful farming enterprise. They took pride in their daughters and, believing strongly in the value of education, ensured that each one got a post-secondary education. George indulged his daughters’ interest in horses despite the fact that he, of course, ended up doing the lion’s share of the work involved, feeding multiple horses and ponies in the barn through the long winters and letting them have the run of the pasture as they got very long in the tooth and mostly abandoned by their riders. But then, George probably didn’t mind that too much; he always liked caring for livestock – horses, cattle, pigs or poultry – and he formed special bonds with the many dogs that were part of his life over the span of 97 years. The arrival of grandchildren and great grandchildren was a source of great satisfaction and joy to both George and Alicia. George delighted in children and always seemed to know just how to relate to them. They responded in kind and all his grandchildren have fond and indelible memories of times spent with granddad, whether it be attending the Weyburn fair with him or learning how to drive the truck during a back-road driving lesson. Naturally, George and Alicia were especially close to Kelly’s sons, Chad and Matt Crane, who lived just “across the road” and whom they helped raise. Dad was fond of referring to these boys as “a fine pair of fellas” or “the best hired men he ever had” and he knew he and Alicia were very lucky to have them around to enliven and enrich their daily lives. After Alicia died, George became even better at expressing his love for all his family and welcomed each new great grandchild as a blessing. He loved to hold them, walk with them, try to make them smile or laugh, and share his many stories with them. So, how do you sum up a man like George Crane? Good son and brother, loving husband, father, grandfather and great grandfather. Good friend and good neighbour. A well-loved man who loved his life on the farm, who loved the prairies, and who was mostly content with whatever life (and the weather) dealt him. To his family, he was our compass and centre. We have wonderful memories of an exceptional and dear man. We will never forget him. We are proud of him. George was predeceased by his wife, Alicia; his parents, John and Belvia Crane; two brothers, John and Mac; four sisters, Margaret, Jean, Mary, and Doris; son-in-law George Yulka; and many other loved in-laws. He is survived by one sister, Edna Crane of Burnaby, BC; four daughters: Karren Yulka and Darlene Crane, both of Saskatoon, Kelly Crane of Weyburn, and Cheryl Crane (Claude Labonne) of Victoria, BC; six grandchildren, Shannon (Richard) Colvin, Maureen (Shawn) Joyce, Lee Yulka (Sue Perfect), Erin Yulka (Lars Hallstrom), Chad (Michelle) Crane, and Matt (Kristin) Crane; 17 great grandchildren; as well as many dear nieces, nephews and cousins. A funeral service was held Friday, July 27 from Grace United Church, Weyburn with Reverend M. Barnabas officiating. Pallbearers were Lee Yulka, Matt Crane, Ryan Joyce, Chad Crane, Devon Joyce, and Garnet Johnston. Interment took place at Hillcrest Cemetery, Weyburn. Donations in memory of George may be made to Weyburn General Hospital Palliative Care Unit/ New Hospital, 201 1st Ave. NE, Weyburn, SK S4H 0N1, or a charity of donor’s choice. Condolences may be left at: www.fletcherfuneralchapel.com. Arrangements have been entrusted to Fletcher Funeral Chapels Ltd., Weyburn, (306) 842-5432.