|Birth: ||Mar. 6, 1898|
|Death: ||Feb. 16, 2003|
San Luis Obispo County
Bugle sounds taps for World War I soldier
Don Crain of Morro Bay, California,
three weeks short of his 105th birthday
The San Luis Obisbo Tribune
Posted Fri, Feb. 21, 2003
MORRO BAY - During the nearly three decades he lived in Morro Bay, Don Crain was a fixture at Memorial and Veterans Day commemorations.
Quite possibly the last World War I veteran in the county [no, see Frank Buckles], Crain would be seen at the annual events with his wooden cane, carved from the propeller of a biplane in 1918. Crain, who died Sunday at age 104, was remembered by friends for his sense of humor, a great singing voice and for being actively involved with community organizations well into his 90s. "We used to walk the litter walks together," said former Morro Bay Mayor Warren Dorn, one of the founding members of Morro Bay Beautiful. The group has been holding Monday morning litter walks around Morro Rock and beach for many years.
Dorn said Crain finally had to give up the strolls when he was 95.
"He was something else," Dorn said. "What a guy. What an attitude, that's the main thing."
Crain was a regular at Veterans Day services at Los Osos Valley Mortuary and Memorial Park -- the largest of such annual commemorations in the county. He was well known to the annual event's organizers and rubbed elbows with other veterans such as former San Luis Obispo Mayor Ron Dunin and Leo Fleury, a fellow veteran from World War I who died several years ago. Crain enjoyed volunteering his time and was a delivery driver for Meals on Wheels until he was 97 and could no longer drive.
He once quipped, "I like to take care of the old folks."
Crain was honored on his 100th birthday (1998) by the Elks Club, Morro Bay Beautiful, Meals On Wheels and the Daughters of the American Revolution for his years of service. He was well-known for telling jokes and having a jovial attitude about life. "He was so great," Dorn said. "He always had jokes to tell and he kept people laughing. "That's one of the main things when you get old, to keep you going," Dorn added. "He was a very active, bright guy."
With his baritone voice, Crain sang with the choir at the Estero Bay United Methodist Church in Morro Bay. A memorial service is scheduled at 11 a.m. Wednesday at the church. Crain sang with the choir until his 100th birthday. "He had a beautiful voice," recalled Daisy Enochs, who also performed in the choir. "He loved to barbershop quartet, too."
Crain was born on March 6, 1898, in Augusta, Ill to Fred Crain and Martha "Mattie" Newcomb. He was with the Army Signal Corps in England during World War I and was an airplane mechanic. Few of the roughly 4.7 million American men and 33,000 women who served in the military during World War I are alive today. The war ended Nov. 11, 1918. An estimated 4,800 men and 370 women veterans from the war were still alive nationwide in 1998, according to U.S. Census Bureau projections. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs no longer tracks the number of World War I veterans, and local vets groups say they don't either.
In 1921 Crain went to Knox College in Galesburg, Ill., After he graduated, he moved to Berthoud, CO where he taught school. There he met Gertrude Resene. They were married for more than 60 years. She died in 1983. Crain was a teacher and sold Model T Fords for about four years while living in Colorado. He coached girls basketball in the mid-1920s in a small town in Wyoming, winning two state championships. He got into the insurance business with Metropolitan Life in 1933 and retired from the company in 1962. Crain spent most of the 1960s and early 1970s fishing, rock hunting and staking uranium claims in Utah. He moved to Morro Bay in 1974.
Enochs remembered Crain as somewhat of a rock hound who liked to show his work with precious stones when she visited. "He did a lot of things," she said.
Crain was a member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, the American Legion and the Elks Club in Paso Robles. He was a past Exalted Ruler for the Paso Robles Elks Lodge and was the oldest living past Exalted Ruler in the nation.
Fred Hoyt Crain (1867 - 1920)
Martha Gordon Newcomb Crain (1871 - 1957)
Gertrude Ann Resene Crain (1900 - 1983)
Donald Frank Crain (1898 - 2003)
Dorothy Crain Hawes (1899 - 1989)*
Veterans Cemetery Orchard Mesa
Maintained by: Sue Hawes
Originally Created by: Talbot Fisher
Record added: Jan 04, 2010
Find A Grave Memorial# 46333797