In The News

June 10, 2005 - St. Louis Review -- Survivor Tackles College, Career, Dog Sledding

February 25, 2010 - St. Louis Dispatch -- Determination Buoys Woman's Recovery

March 19, 2010 -  Barnes Jewish Hospital Radio Commercial

April 6, 2010 - Barnes Jewish Hospital Television Commercial

July 20, 2010 River Front Times - There She Is, Ms. Senior Missouri

September 1, 2016 Active Lifestyles - St. Louis Grand Dames


Survivor Tackles College, Career, Dog Sledding
by Barbara Watkins, Review Staff Writer
June 10, 2005

Her faith, attitude help beat odds after aneurysm

Jacquie Crawford is a survivor. She survived being a young single mother with five small children. She survived a late college career, earning bachelors and masters degrees in business while raising her children. She survived a hectic career, reaching the ranks of senior vice president of a major corporation.

Then she survived devastating health problems, including a ruptured brain aneurysm so dangerous that doctors gave her only a 1 percent chance of living.

She survived so well that on Jan. 9, 2004, five years to the day of her brain surgery for the aneurysm, Crawford, at 65 years old, was living out a lifelong dream - mushing a dog team across the frozen Bering Sea in Alaska. "I always wanted to do that, and I thought, well, I'm 65, I need to do it now," Crawford said. So she did. "I returned home with frostbite and pneumonia, but this trip was worth every ache and pain," said Crawford, a hard woman to dissuade from her goals.

Today Crawford is the business manager of St. Alphonsus Liguori (Rock) Parish in North St. Louis. Her five children have given her four grandchildren, the families spread across several states, and she shares her Central West End home with three chihuahuas.

Retired from her corporate job, Crawford recently earned her second master's degree, this one in pastoral care, from Aquinas Institute of Theology. While taking classes at Aquinas she served as a chaplain at two local hospitals. She is an active parishioner as well as employee at the Rock Church, as St. Alphonsus is called, and is a Lay Redemptorist Missionary.

And, by the way, she also knows how to make a mean quilt. "Well, that was only the second quilt I ever made," she said, gesturing to a colorful quilt on the wall of her office at the Rock Church. Crawford made it in 1997, while she was still senior vice president at Citicorp Mortgage. It was an AIDS fund-raiser and bears the signatures of many people affiliated with the parish, as well that of basketball great Magic Johnson, who came to St. Alphonsus last year to speak. "I became the business manager in 2001. When I made the quilt it was as a parishioner," she said.

Crawford is a very loyal parishioner and has served on the liturgy commission, the stewardship committee and the parish council and is a commentator and eucharistic minister at St. Alphonsus. She created and wrote an ecumenical prayer service, "Blue Christmas," this past December to help people suffering a loss deal with the holidays. It was held at St. Alphonsus, and more than 400 people attended. "It was a very moving experience," she said.

Crawford also has traveled to Guatemala to work with families that she sponsors there at a Lay Redemptorist Missionary and hopes to minister in Thailand as well.

At 66, she is not slowing down. She learned early that just because some things are hard to do, they are not impossible. "When my husband left me with 5 children under the age of six, I moved back home to Minnesota and went to college. It wasn't easy, but I did it," said Crawford.

After earning her degrees she would sometimes give talks to womens' groups, encouraging women in similar situations to go to school and reclaim their lives. "Sometimes a woman would say, "I'd love to go back to college, but I have these two little kids!" Crawford said. "I'd say, "I had five little kids and I did it, you can too."

In 1994 Crawford joined St. Alphonsus Parish, a decision that she believes had far-reaching consequences. "I believe I am alive today because of the prayers of this parish," she said. Driving down Highway 40 on Saturday, Jan. 9, 1999, she got a terrible headache, Crawford said. "And I don't get headaches." Eventually she pulled over and called 911. By the time the ambulance reached her, she couldn't talk. She had a ruptured brain aneurysm.

Her children rushed in from their out-of-state homes. "The doctors told them I had a 1 percent chance of survival and if I did survive I would probably be totally paralyzed. And while they talked, I could hear all this. I couldn't talk, but I could hear the doctors say I would probably die." Crawford's children authorized the surgery.

Then, Redemptorist Father Rick Potts, at that time associate pastor of St. Alphonsus, came to see her. "Father Rick anointed me and said, "I'm going to church and we will claim a healing for you at our Sunday Masses." Crawford said, "He said, claim a healing." It was the first positive statement that she had heard. "Then the president of the parish council, whose name was Michael, came to see me. He looked at me and said, "I've come to tell you that you're not going to die." He said it again. Then he left. "I reached down to every bit of my faith and told myself 'I'm not going to die.' It was the power of faith. When my mind told my body it was going to be OK, it was OK. It's the body, mind and spirit together," Crawford said.

She had the surgery. A week later she had a pulmonary embolism. A week after that, still in the hospital, she had a staph infection. "It was a miracle that I survived. Afterward I went to see the brain surgeon and he said, "I'm a good surgeon but not that good. I don't know why you're here?" I said, "I do."

Later, she asked the parish council president why he told her she wouldn't die. He replied that he didn't really know, "he just kind of felt it," Crawford said. Redemptorist Father Maurice Nutt, then the pastor of St. Alphonsus, told Crawford, "God must have some plans for you." "I wanted to know what these plans were," Crawford said. "Father Maurice said, "Maybe it's just to be." That was different. I was always rewarded for doing, not being. It was a new idea for me."

Crawford's reaction to her health problems says a lot about her philosophy of life. Discussing the catastrophic events, she described not her bad luck, but her good luck. "It happened on a Saturday, so they could "claim the healing" at Sunday Masses. They had prayers going at the church, prayers all over. And I had the cell phone in my car to call, which I rarely did. Then I was able to get off the road all right. And I had one of the best brain surgeons at Barnes. He just happened to be on call," Crawford said. "Just imagine what could have happened," she said.

Another health problem, her knees, required arthroscopic surgery later in 1999. Her knees continued to bother her and at one point knee replacement was considered.

In January 2003, while on crutches, she watched the movie "Snow Dogs," about dog sledding. That prompted her to try and live out that childhood dream of driving a dog team, so she began an intense yearlong regimen to build strength, control arthritis and make herself fit enough to mush a dog sled. After getting an OK from her various doctors - cardiologist, neurosurgeon, orthopedist, internist - she was off.

Crawford signed up for a six-day dog sled trip in Alaska, near Nome at St. Michael Island. "When I saw it was St. Michael, and I remembered the parish council president was named Michael, well, I just knew it was right," she said. Her children were not enthused, she said, "But now they're very proud of me."

The disclaimer she had to sign was a little off-putting. "I knew it would be tough, but the disclaimer said they wouldn't be held responsible by death from bears, wolves, dog fights, falling off a cliff. I signed it."

It was hard, hooking up five 55-pound sled dogs and controlling them. It was cold, with temperatures ranging from 3 degrees to 60 below zero. It was exhausting and on the return trip the group had to outrun a blizzard threatening their safe return. "And it was spectacular and magnificent," said Crawford.

She is given to Bible quotes and used two on a Christmas letter describing her dog-sledding experience. Referring to her January 1999 brain surgery, she quoted Mark 5:24, "Go on your way, your faith has healed you."

As for what she called her "life-giving dog sled trip," Crawford cited Phillipians 4:13, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me."

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Determination Buoys Woman's Recovery
by Harry Jackson, Jr., St. Louis Post-Dispatch
February 25, 2010

Eleven years ago, a ruptured brain aneurysm nearly killed Jacquie Crawford. A pulmonary embolism, a lung disorder, shortly after brain surgery added to her health issues.

Years later, she survived a heart blockage, atrial fibrilation, that forced her into more months of rehab. Then both of her knees had to be replaced.

In the midst of all of that, she managed to take a trip with a dogsled team across the frozen Bering Sea in northern Alaska, become an on-call chaplain with St. Louis University and St. Alexius hospitals, train dogs and become a tap dancer.

"I believe there is a seed of equivalent benefit in every adversity," Crawford said. "I will not stop looking for this benefit for myself and for others.

"This gives me a positive outlook on everything that happens, keeps me positive and gives me hope."

Crawford's saga began in January 1999, with a headache that became so bad she had to pull off of Highway 40 (Interstate 64) and call an ambulance. She was barely able to speak or move by the time it arrived.

At Barnes-Jewish Hospital, her tests showed blood had spilled onto her brain from a ruptured weak spot in a vessel.

Her priest prayed, friends visited to pray, cry and hope. From around her she heard the whispers from medical people about her bleak outlook, maybe a 1 percent chance of survival, that she shouldn't even be alive.

When she could speak, she told children and relatives that she was at peace with whatever happened. "I will be waiting for you all in heaven."

Then came the visit from a close friend she will only identify as Michael.

"There was the sound of all the pumps in the room and he walked in, and all the sound was gone. The room was just white," she said. "And Michael looked at me and didn't crack a smile."

After some words about her spirit and divine power, he told her that she was not going to die.

"He said it three times. And I blinked my eyes to say that I understood. And he was gone," she said. "I knew I was going to live."

Medical science has made strides in preventing death and disability from ruptured aneurysms, said Dr. Ralph Dacey, chief of neurosurgery at Barnes Jewish Hospital and Washington University School of Medicine and Crawford's neurosurgeon.

"People can make surprisingly good recoveries from ruptured intracranial aneurysms," he said.

Still, Crawford helped her own plight.

"The patient's positive attitude has a lot to do with recovering from any type of major neurological illness," Dacey said.

While hospitalized, she developed a lung disorder, likely brought on by the therapy used to quell the effects of the aneurysm.

The conditions led to weeks of rehabilitation; she lived for a time with a daughter.

Jump to her returning home. With the new life, she stepped up her activities: working as a chaplain; increasing support and visits to single mothers in Guatemala and Mexico. She also went to Mississippi to help people there deal with poverty and abandonment.

She continued training and fostering long-haired Chihuahuas.

In 2003, she was watching a movie, "Sled Dogs," with Cuba Gooding Jr. The film reawakened a dream from her childhood in Minnesota. She booked a six-day dogsled trip across northern Alaska known for its minus-60-degree wind chills, and desolation.

She still finds it amazing, even prophetic, that on Jan. 9, 2004, five years to the day of her ruptured aneurysm, she was on a frozen Bering Sea approaching the end of her trip — on St. Michael's Island.

In 2006 she had another challenge; her heart began to fail. Doctors used a new form of surgery to fix it. After more weeks of rehabilitation she accelerated back to full speed — until her knees began to fail, the result of a 30-year-old injury.

Two surgeries months apart replaced both her knees in time for her to tap dance in the St. Louis Senior Olympics.

"God is going to see me through no matter what else happens," she said. "Just the fact that I'm going to continue trying until I can't do it any more.

"I don't do it alone. I get by with a little help from my family and friends and a lot of help from my God who either clears the way for me or gives me the strength to trudge through it."


Age — 70

Home — St. Peters, MO

Occupation — Retired senior vice president, Citicorp Mortgage, now CitiMortgage.

What she did — She survived a ruptured brain aneurysm, then survived open-heart surgery and two knee replacements before competing in the St. Louis Senior Olympics as a dancer.

How she did it — She decided that every challenge has a good side and a bad side; so she dwells on the good side and things work out themselves.

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 There She Is, Ms. Senior Missouri
by Amy Levitt, River Front Time
July 20, 2010

Two years ago, Jacquie Crawford had knee-replacement surgery on both legs. A week ago last Saturday, July 10, she performed a tap-dance routine to "There's No Business Like Show Business" and was subsequently crowned Ms. Missouri Senior America.

"People come up to me and say, 'Where did you get your knees done?'" says Crawford, who is 71.

Ms. Missouri Senior America was Crawford's first pageant ever. Contestants are judged on their philosophy of life, an evening gown presentation and a private interview. "No swimming suit," Crawford says with evident relief. She entered because she wanted to be part of the Cameo Club, a group that performs at nursing homes and hospitals, but learned that participation in the pageant was a requirement for membership.

"The theme of the national pageant is 'The Age of Elegance,'" Crawford explains. "You have to be 60 years old or older to enter. The pageant is looking for inner beauty: poise, maturity, grace, that sort of thing. They were looking for an older person to represent the state. I read all that and then thought, 'Oh, my goodness, they picked me?'"

Incidentally, Crawford has also survived open-heart surgery and another operation to repair a brain aneurysm. It was the brain surgery, oddly enough, that provided the biggest obstacle to Crawford learning her tap-dance routine.

"It's kind of interesting," she says. "After my brain surgery, there were no side effects, except that it was difficult to remember things. The doctors told my daughters I would have to write everything down, but they didn't bother to tell me because I was a Franklin-Covey management teacher and already wrote everything down. But when I started learning the dance, we would three steps and practice and then learn the next three. And by then I had forgotten the first three steps."

Crawford practiced every day for six months. "Sometimes I was good. Sometimes I was terrible. I'd think, 'Oh, no, I'm going to embarrass myself and everyone I know.'"

She finally started to catch onto the routine in April and performed at the Senior Olympics in May. "Afterwards, somebody told me, 'You looked like you were having a doggoned good time!'"

Crawford worked for many years as a senior vice president at Citicorp Mortgage. She's written two textbooks, one on women in management, the other on teacher education. After her retirement, she became certified as a chaplain and served at St. Alexis and St. Louis University Hospitals.

In January of 2006, when she was 65, she mushed a team of sled dogs across the Bering Strait to Alaska. These days, her life is quieter, although she wakes up at five a.m. every morning to take care of her ten-month-old granddaughter Millie. "It's easier to take care of five children when you're in your 20s than just one in your 70s," she says.

Jacquie Crawford drives a team of sled dogs across the Alaskan tundra. - IMAGE VIA image via Jacquie Crawford drives a team of sled dogs across the Alaskan tundra. In October, Crawford will compete in the Ms. Senior America pageant in Atlantic City. (The seniors still know how to do things right.) Before then, she's expected to speak to groups of older women. "I'm looking forward to interacting with the women of the state and give them hope and encouragement," she says. Like her younger counterparts, she will also ride in parades. But only a week into her reign, she learned some unpleasant truths about beauty queen life.

"They gave me this list of event and in parentheses, they wrote that you have to get your own convertible," she says. "I called my friend who works at a bank and was telling her about this and she said, 'Are you calling me up for a loan?' I said, 'No, no.' I assume some dealership will want to sponsor it and get publicity for their pretty, pretty convertible."


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Full page ad in St. Louis Post and several magazines including St. Louis Magazine, Belleville News Democrat, Ladue News, Community Health Magazine, Sauce Magazine, Jewish Light Magazine, MNI Home Network Magazines (Country Living,  Elle Décor, House Beautiful, This Old House, Traditional Home), MNI Luxury Network Magazines (Food & Wine, Real Simple, Town & Country, Travel + Leisure)


My cardiac surgeon's office called and asked if I would participate with Barnes Hospital to do some radio, TV, and advertising spots for them regarding heart surgery at Barnes Hospital.  One of their surgeons had performed a new, innovative open heart surgery on me when I was experiencing the severe effects of Atrial Fibrillation.  With Atrial Fibrillation, the blood pools in the upper chamber of the heart and prevents a regular blood flow to the rest of the body.  Bottom line, you are extremely exhausted and cannot perform normal life activities.  This surgery was my last resort or I could have been bed-ridden in a short amount of time.

 March 19, 2010 -  Barnes Jewish Hospital Radio Commercial

 April 6, 2010 - Barnes Jewish Hospital Television Commercial

Atrial Fibrillation

 St. Louis Grande Dames
by Debbie Wheeler, Active Lifestyles
September 1, 2016

St. Louis Union Station is now one of America's great historic tourism destinations and event spaces. Union Station first opened September 1, 1894, and was considered the largest most beautiful terminal in the United States. In its heyday during the mid-1940s, over 100,000 passengers a day made their was to and from the trains. As airplanes became the preferred mode of long-distance travel and railroad passengers began using other forms of transportation in the 1950s and 1960, the massive station became obsolete and too expensive to maintain for its original purpose. Operations as an active rail terminal finally ceased on OCtober 31, 1978 when the last commuter trains pulled out of St. Louis Union Station. But that was not the end of the line...everyone knows you can't keep a Grande Dame down!

A St. Louis icon, Union Station simply could not run out of steam; there needed to be change in order to survive; it required a new purpose to be all that it could be!  The gorgeous station was on track once again when it reopened in August of 1985 as the largest adaptive re-use project in the United States geared toward St. Louis tourism, commerce, and events. With yet another purpose for this Grande Dame, St. Louis-based Lodging Hospitality Management, Inc., purchased the property in 2012 and currently is in the midst of a multi-phase renovation including the hotel, meeting rooms, exhibit space, retail and outdoor space. The renovation also includes a 200 foot high Ferris wheel, a 75,000 square-foot, aquarium and YES, the return of excursion trains!

Our cover model this month, Jacquelyn Crawford-Mack has also found ways to re-purpose herself as she traverses down the curves as well as the straightaways on the rails of life. Jacquelyn Crawford, (Jacquie) known as "Sunny" to her friends, is the mother of five grown children. However, when these five children were all under the age of 7, she became a single parent! This event changed her life completely! She had planned on being a homemaker, wife and mother...because in the late '60s that was what women did. But now with five young children and herself to support, she had to re-evaluate her life. Instead of feeling sorry for herself, she started by looking in the mirror and saying, "I can do this!"

Jacquie went on to college, earning bachelors and masters degrees in business while raising her children and she hasn't looked back! When she was 65, (just five years after having survived a ruptured brain aneurysm and brain surgery), Jacquie decided to live out a life-long dream -- mushing a dog sled team across the frozen Bering Sea in Alaska. "I always wanted to do that, and I thought, well, I'm 65, I need to do it now," Crawford said. So she did. "I returned home with frostbite and pneumonia, but this trip was worth every ache and pain."  At 77, she continues to make positive changes in her life even when the light at the end of the tunnel looks like a freight train. Jacquie has endured: two TIAs, a ruptured brain aneurysm, brain surgery, a pulmonary embolism, atrial fibrillation, open heart surgery, two total knee replacements (after which she took up tap dancing; dancing her way to Ms. Senior Missouri in 2010), a pacemaker and a heart attack.

"I am truly blessed just to be alive at 77", says Jacquie. "I want to make a difference - in my life, and more importantly, in the lives of others - yes, I want to "give back", but that phrase is used so often - so let me say I want to encourage, support, inspire and help others to be all they can be.  From volunteering with various organizations, to sponsoring children in Guatemala and working there on vacations, offering pet therapy to those in need, volunteering at hospitals - to becoming Ms. Senior Missouri 2010, and given the opportunity to dance and speak at nursing homes and retirement centers, which I continue to do...these are the things I treasure the most. While it was an honor to represent Missouri Senior women, I am most grateful for the doors that it opened and allowed me to meet women I would never have met any other way and inspire them in so many ways. A great gift. That was truly the best part of that Pageant!"

For Sunny, this is not the end of the line...everyone knows you can't keep a Grande Dame down!

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