Obituary: Jon C. Crawford / Local interior designer had 'talent for everything'
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Jon C. Crawford didn't stop at being one of the most prominent interior designers in Pittsburgh -- his expertise had to extend to, well, everything.
"No matter what he touched, he excelled at," said his sister, Darlene Crawford. "Whether it was writing or cooking or landscaping or art restoration, he just had this overall talent for everything."
Born in Kennedy, Mr. Crawford was selected from a large art class at the Carnegie Museum as one of the only recipients of a scholarship to Carnegie Mellon University. He died Saturday in the McCandless home he shared with Darlene and his mother, Stella, from complications from an ulcer. He was 60.
According to Darlene Crawford, his talent was apparent ever since he was able to express it, and was his passion throughout his life. Mr. Crawford eventually held a teaching position at the Art Institute of Pittsburgh, but his knack for educating others extended beyond the classroom.
"He gave to me the knowledge that he said I always had," said close friend Paul George. "I never thought of myself as a designer; he cultivated it out of me when we lived together. I've had jobs since then, and I could've never done it without Jon's nurturing."
Beyond giving personal pieces of artwork to friends and family -- including portraits or, on occasion, caricatures of pets -- Mr. Crawford was an established designer, working with prominent families and celebrities around Pittsburgh. Along with collaborating with other significant designers, including the late Mark Christy, he did work for Penguins co-owner Mario Lemieux and Barbara and Jerry Chait, part owners of Giant Eagle.
Yet through it all, Mr. Crawford remained dedicated to putting his talents to use for those he loved.
"He loved to work outside; he had a flare for that also," his sister said. "He put in a number of ponds for friends; he did beautiful landscaping."
On a recent visit to the Crawford home, Mr. George discovered a small sanctuary cut into the surrounding trees -- beautifully designed and visible only from a nearby apartment. It was just the touch of Mr. Crawford's influence that he'd come to expect.
"Everything was right where he left it," Mr. George said. "You just felt him everywhere."
A celebration of Mr. Crawford's life is to be held at a later date and is being arranged by Walter J. Zalewski Funeral Home in Lawrenceville.
First Published May 25, 2012 12:00 am