A lifelong career with Florida agriculture


In the photo: At the Polk County Farm Bureau Harvest Celebration, Ray Crawford, left and in inset photo, receives an award from PCFB President Les Dunson for his many years of service to the Farm Bureau.

Ray Crawford on ‘retired’ life after the Florida Farm Bureau

USUALLY, THE PHRASE “hit the ground running” is used to describe how an employee begins a new job. However, in this instance, Ray Crawford recently retired and those four words easily describe how he’s handling his golden years.

“It’s going to take me years to catch up on all my projects,” Crawford laughs.

On May 31, he retired as the Senior Assistant Director of Field Services from the Florida Farm Bureau (FFB) after nearly 34 years. He was responsible for District 5, which includes Citrus, Hernando, Hillsborough, Lake, Pasco, Pinellas, Polk and Sumter counties.

He began his career with FFB as the Field Services Assistant Director in South Florida, covering Indian River to Dade counties. “I have been truly blessed every day for the past 33 plus years,” says Crawford. “I got up every day and looked forward to going to work. I absolutely loved my career the whole time.”

Because of the nature of his job, his tasks would vary from day to day. One day he might visit a farmer, the next day attend a meeting in a different county, and the next a legislative function. The one constant about his career however, was his desire to help farmers, the agriculture industry, and FFB.

“I think that the strength of Florida Farm Bureau is not in our home office but resides in our county-level Farm Bureaus,” he observes. “If our county Farm Bureaus are active and vibrant, our state organization is going to be, also.”

Fellow FFB Senior Assistant Director of Field Services, Dan Buchanan, who worked with Crawford the entire length of his career, testifies that he was one of the most dedicated employees he’s ever met. “He lived and breathed Farm Bureau and Florida agriculture,” Buchanan explains. “He was especially good at getting people to join a committee because he made them understand how important they were to the success of the organization.”

Over the years, Crawford achieved many accomplishments, but he doesn’t like to think of them as his. “Gee whiz, I don’t look at them as ‘mine,’ ” he says. “It’s always about the team — not Ray Crawford. But, if I helped our Farm Bureau county offices be successful even a little bit along the way, then I was successful in my career.”

Buchanan says Crawford was successful because he was a natural at his job. “Ray has a love for Florida Farm Bureau that very few people have for the companies they work for,” he says. “People respected his knowledge and love for the industry, plus he never met a stranger.”

His wife of 40 years, Lynn, is a retired educator and they have two children, Jennifer and Chad, and one grandchild named Evan. His long lists of projects didn’t originate with Lynn but are tasks and hobbies of his. And, those interests aren’t anything new to him – they’re things like farmers, agriculture, and Florida Farm Bureau.

Yes it’s true, the day he retired, Crawford turned in his FFB cellphone as well as office and truck keys. But make no mistake, just because he’s off the payroll doesn’t mean his involvement in agriculture will end.

He’ll also go back to the projects he’s finishing — among them restoring a 1988 Mustang and helping his grandson build a gun closet – plus there’s the completion of his office. “People have gotten a kick out of the fact that I’m going to finish my office now that I’m retired,” he admits. “But, I’ve got plans for that place … like working and having meetings in it for the local Farm Bureau.”

It’s looking like Crawford’s retirement might be just as busy as the past 34 years.

CREDIT

article by ANITA WHITAKER