BY JACLYN ROSE –
Robert Crawford couldn’t be happier to call Polk County his home. He and his wife, Donita, are both natives of Texas who met while attending Texas Tech University. The couple, who married in July of 1984, celebrated their 30th Anniversary by renewing their vows and going on a second honeymoon to the state of California in July of 2014. “I’ve learned the secret to staying married for 30 years with Donita is to never go to bed mad. I also learned that it’s best to tell her I’m sorry,” said Crawford with a smile. “One of Donita’s strengths is that she makes me talk even when I don’t want to talk. She brings it out of me and that is a huge part of what makes our marriage work. I dearly love Donita and there is no other option but to stay married to her. She is my anchor. Nothing I’ve done could be done without her. She has always supported me and rolled with my craziness.”
The Crawfords have two children that they are extremely proud of, Max and Courtney. “Max was born 6 weeks premature and spent 21 days in the NICU. Donita and I have often talked about how we feel about that because he had to fight so much in his first days that he has continued that mentality. He is the type of guy that doesn’t have a bad day, because he’s not going to let it be a bad day. He’s naturally intelligent and musically inclined and is self taught on several instruments. We enjoyed loading up his buddies in their band in high school and traveling around to his concerts. He is married to his wife of two years, Madeline and is working as a coder for Brother’s Company in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Courtney has always been such a sweet girl and is always thinking of others. She wants you to feel comfortable even if you are there to comfort her. She has let life come to her, though all the things she does, she does very well. She graduated from University of Arkansas in Fort Smith, as her brother also did, and is working on gaining sales experience by working for Verizon up there,” explained Crawford.
The Crawfords spent the first several years of their marriage in Dallas, Texas before Donita’s parents purchased a chicken farm in Mena in the early 1990’s. When his father-in-law needed to take some time off from farming to focus on some health issues, he asked the Crawfords to run his farm for him for a year. “We knew we had to go somewhere because we didn’t want to raise our kids in the city so I told Donita, ‘let’s go,’” explained Crawford. They moved to Mena and spent the next year working the chicken farm. “It was culture shock and it was harder for Donita to adjust. In one swoop we had a new job, a new home, and a new baby, but I loved it here. Donita didn’t have to work and I would get up early to check the chickens and I’d come home for lunch and the kids would be there and we spent a lot of time as a family. When we look back on it now, we agree, that we loved those times and we miss them,” explained Crawford.
Today Crawford continues to work with poultry, but in a different role, as a Field Tech for Del Mesa, whom he has worked for off and on since 1996. Crawford also served on the Mena Public School Board for 10 years. “I got to be part of planning the new high school and getting through the tornado and a lot of different administrations. They treated me well while I was there and I got to give something back to the community and it was so important to me and a really good thing,” explained Crawford.
In high school, Crawford ran track and had a natural ability that he didn’t take too seriously at the time. In February of 2014, Max approached his dad about running in the Tulsa Marathon with him and he started training. “I almost died that first mile,” said Crawford with a laugh, “but I started training religiously. Everyone on Bethesda Heights and Jerry Lee Drive know me well because I would run laps around there day and night. I trained by running 500 miles in 6 months and was ready to run a 9 mile pace. Max and I ran together and we ran the Tulsa Marathon in a 10.3 mile. I don’t know if I would have finished if he hadn’t been there,” explained Crawford. Crawford recently completed the Fort Smith Marathon where he finished 3rd in his age group with an 8.17 mile. The first place winner was only 20 seconds in front of him. “I am training for a triathlon in June and I’m committed to it. Donita took up walking when I started running and she will walk 1,000 miles this year, so that is what we are doing with our empty nest,” Crawford said.
“I thought Texas was friendly, but then I moved to Arkansas and Arkansas is even friendlier, you can go anywhere in the state and the people are so nice. I love that about this area. I also have such great friendships that I have developed. I bet there are 10 guys that I could call to help me fix a flat in the middle of the night. Those are the things that anchor us to Polk County and why we love it here,” said Crawford.