Crawford delivered mail along Longboat Key for 33 years.
Dave Crawford, who delivered mail on Longboat Key since the 1990s, died March 3 at the age of 58.
Crawford carried mail on Longboat Key for 33 years and delivered to every corner of the island throughout his tenure, said Longboat Key Postmaster Josue Pagan. Most recently, he was delivering mail to the south end of Longboat Key, including Country Club Shores and many of the large condo communities. Of all the carriers at Longboat Key, Pagan said Crawford had the toughest route with the most mail. Even still, he was Pagan’s most reliable carrier at a post office with a lot of long-tenured workers.
“The guy today said, ‘I don’t know how Dave did his job in nine hours. It takes two of us eight hours each to do his route,’” said Mike Boesen, who manages Tencon. “That job was his passion.”
Both fathers with adult children, Boesen and Crawford bonded over the years over their shared love of softball, as well as fatherhood. The men played church softball together and shared photos and stories of their daughter and son, respectively, who both played college ball.
“I basically met him my first day,” Boesen said. “It hits really close to me. I’ve seen him every day for 29 years.”
Crawford had enormous amounts of energy and kindness to deliver along with the mail. He was an avid reader who traded books with residents along his route, always made sure medication was delivered right to the door and recognized names of people he met from the envelopes and packages he deposited.
Boesen knew of a woman along Crawford’s route who had Parkinson’s disease; walking was difficult for her, so every day, no matter if it was sunny or pouring rain, Crawford would get out of the mail truck and run her mail up to her door so she didn’t have to walk down her driveway.
“I know he’s touched a lot of the people he delivers to,” Boesen said.
Originally from Ohio, Crawford moved to the area in his mid-20s and began working at the Bradenton Beach post office. He eventually was transferred to Longboat Key, where he built a home for himself pounding the pavement and devoting himself to his work. His steadfastness didn’t go unrecognized, and many of his customers knew him and looked forward to seeing him every day.
“It was his dream job,” mother Carol Crawford said. “I knew names I could never put faces with. They meant a lot to him. We would talk on the phone and he would say, ‘I saw Mr. So-and-So today,’ and that didn’t mean a thing to me, but other than his family that was his love.”
Boesen said he would look after customers’ homes when they were away in the summer, and his mother remembered that he would know to deliver incorrectly addressed mail to the new address of a customer who had recently moved to another place on the island.
Water Club resident David Lapovsky, who said Crawford was the only mailman the newer building had ever had, remembered a time Crawford stopped him while he was walking in his neighborhood to sort out a mail-forwarding issue. From Pagan to his customers, the consensus was that Crawford was one of a kind.
“I'd be out walking, along Gulf of Mexico Drive or in Country Club Shores, and if I see a postal service van, I'd always look to see if it was Dave who was driving the van,” Lapovsky said. “If it was, I'd give him a little wave and if he saw me, he waved back. And now when I look at the postal service vans, I kind of miss that. It's hard to believe he's not around.”
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