“Crawford Was A Man Of The South. “

crawfordcookFor some of us, this past Saturday afternoon was a little different. While a sea of garnet and black was watching “2001” crank up, some of us were able to celebrate a life and a friendship.

My friend, Crawford Cook, passed away on October 16, 2016. His funeral was at noon on Saturday, October 22, 2016. Here are some thoughts written about him on Facebook from some friends that knew him best:

“J Crawford Cook: debonair; lover of great suits; a lover of people and the stories of their lives; a gentleman who treated all people with courtesy and respect; polite; vociferous reader; advisor and confidant to presidential candidates, governors, ambassadors and kings; UPI reporter; international negotiator; public relations guru; lover of spaghetti; lover of great wine, Scotch and a Mr. Friendly’s Gin Bloody Mary; loyal;husband and dad; a horrible putter but great golf partner; mischievous; international man of mystery; the best eating partner a person could have. I will miss you greatly. I already do.” – Trav Robertson

“Governor Hodges called earlier today with the sad news of Crawford Cook’s passing. Crawford did it all. He was an early advisor to Fritz Hollings, to Governor John West, and even Bill Richardson. He was a big shot, but more importantly, he was a good guy.
He was also a mentor to a lot of us. Someone who cared. In my 20s, for several years, not a month went by that Crawford didn’t take me to lunch. The conversation was often about me and what I was up to. He was serious about preparing young people for future leadership roles. This trait wasn’t/isn’t universal with other leaders of his generation. As Trav Jr. Robertson and I were discussing earlier today, it was a honor to learn at his feet.” – Lachlan McIntosh

“Sad to report that Crawford Cook died unexpectedly early this morning. Tough day today- but lots of great memories of Crawdaddy. For those who didn’t know him, Crawford was one of the first top political consultants in the country. He was a principal advisor to the Saudi government during the critical period of the 1970s and 1980s, and started one of the southeast region’s most successful advertising agencies. An advisor to Fritz Hollings, John West, Jim Hodges and countless other Democrats over a 50 year period, he could always be counted on for sage advice and unbending loyalty. We’ll shed many tears over the coming months for life without Crawford, but all feel lucky to have known him.” – Governor Jim Hodges

My friend, Trav Robertson, said it well; “Crawford was interesting.” I’m talking lean forward, raise your eyebrows, shake your head…interesting. As in, WTH? That said, here’s the real ‘what’s what’ on Crawford. As interesting as his life was, our time was never about him. At golf outings and our long lunches at Mr. Friendly’s, he was always interested in us. Even when we weren’t doing anything worth a crap (you know, dippy s&*^ to a guy who has seen it all), he wanted to know what was going on and helped us to try and see a better or finer path.

I can remember going to his house to talk about Shandon values and the real estate market as a whole. Well, I was there almost three hours, gladly. We just hung out and laughed a ton. He had a way of asking the questions, but I was the one learning from him. Go figure that one?? I’m shaking my head again…

I could go on and on about Crawford, but I have to mention one of my lifelong (as in, since the 2nd grade in Anderson, SC), best friends, Trav Robertson. I wouldn’t have had the pleasure of knowing Crawford without Trav and David Adams. Over the years we all spent many, many hours at the back table of Mr. Friendly’s, and golf outings at different Columbia courses. I’ve laughed hard, and I’ve seen and been part of knock down, punch to the nose/hard truths with this bunch. That’s the relationship…

One facet of my personal relationship with Crawford is that he probably didn’t fully know my political preferences. Didn’t care, I’m thinking, and I appreciated that. He knew how good of friends Trav, David, and I were, and that was enough. My own wife, Jennifer Sparks Jones (known as ‘Sparky’ at the statehouse), worked for Gov. Beasley and very closely with Republican strategist, Warren Tompkins, for over a decade. All good.

I’m not sure I’ve laughed so hard at a funeral. The “Remembrances” given by the three speakers were awesome, Trav being one of them. I was proud of Trav. The other speakers were Governor Jim Hodges, and Governor Bill Richardson (D-NM), who was also U.S. Secretary of Energy and presidential candidate, BTW. They all did Crawford right.

There were lots of tears around the room, as well. Some from the obvious, and some from laughing so much. A couple of mine were for Trav. I could see my friend hurting up there.

If I have one regret it would be that I didn’t wear cufflinks on Saturday. If you knew Crawford, you know what I’m talking about.

I think it was Sec. Bill Richardson that said, “Crawford was a man of the South.” From his perspective (or any other, really), I can see that, and I liked that he said it.

From what I know J. Crawford Cook experienced a full life well lived, and that is a thing.

Franklin Jones

*Photo credit…Someone else. I think The State Newspaper.

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