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Lee Crawford


Lee smiling despite being in the middle of battling cancer.

Yesterday, former Crimespree contributor Lee Crawford passed away. He was 66.

Lee was indicative of Crimespree in many ways: He was intelligent, marched to the beat of his own drum, had a deep passion for the things he cared about (Books, films, music) and was just odd enough to be interesting. While most of the Crimespree family put books from and center, Lee’s main passion was music. He spent many hours with an acoustic guitar in his hands. In his reckless youth (1960s), he played in a number of rock bands.

I met Lee in the real world at a former job. We quickly hit it off and realized that we had many in common, among them being love for a good book. Lee had passed many hours with the likes of Ian Flemming, John D. MacDonald and Frederick Forsyth. Not long after we met, he was devouring the works of Dennis Lehane, Michael Connelly, Lee Child and Sean Chercover (He loved Sean’s Ray Dudgeon). After having so many discussions about our mutual loves, I asked him if he would be interested in writing some reviews. He accepted and opted to tackle DVDs. From 2006 to 2010, Lee offered up his thoughts on things he loved (NUMB3RS, KIDNAPPED) and things he did not (JUMPER, ROAD HOUSE 2) with passion and a bit of humor. That same humor helped make our shop a warm and inviting place to work and kept many clients coming back.

Lee was a guy that you could have a deep, passionate conversation about music, movies (We spent hours celebrating great dialogue), books and life with, but you could also let your freak flag fly and just get goofy. He was sensitive enough to realize when you needed cheering up, but was enough of an old school gentleman not to pry about the reason.

A few years ago, he waged was with lung cancer and, with the help of radiation, chemo and the removal of part of a lung,  beat it. He kept his sense of humor the entire time and never gave in to bitterness or self-pity, even though few would have blamed him. I am proud to say I stood by his side during this battle, doing whatever I could to help. When he once asked me why I was going doing so much for him, I asked if he would do the same for me. “Of course” was his reply. “That is the reason” was mine. Lee was the kind of guy that you wanted to do right by. He was a gentleman and a good soul.  It seems odd that his heart was what failed him since it was his strongest suit. Perhaps something so great, so powerful, can go for only so long. When his mother was struggling in her later years, Lee moved in with her and helped make her life less difficult.

Over the years, nicknames developed. After one elderly woman said I was a peach, Lee looked at her and said He is, isn’t he? From that day on, I became Peach. It is what I put on my Crimespree Wrecking Crew bowling shirt (St. Louis Bouchercon). When Jon asked what I wanted for a name, nothing else made sense…it had to be Peach. Lee, on the other hand, somehow ended up with the not-quite-as-kind moniker of The Geezer or Geez for short. He took great delight in it, often complaining to customers that we were “picking on the geezer” when jokes were at his expense. Never again will I call anyone a geezer, I am retiring that word because nobody else will deserve it.

I am honored to have called him my friend and am a better person for knowing him. Next time you drink a cup of coffee or a brandy (two of his favorite things) say a toast to the Geez. Odds are good you shall not meet a person like him again.