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Joe Crabb

December 18, 1927 December 27, 2015
Joe Crabb
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Obituary for Joe Crabb

Joe Crabb of Dixon Springs, Illinois peacefully passed into the next world on December 27th at the age of 88, surrounded by the family he cherished. In a body ravaged by COPD and other conditions, he fought to survive with a fervor few have known. He is survived by his wife of 66 years, Ethel; daughters, Karen Brummer and Cindy Abbott with husband Bruce; grandchildren, Brent & Jessica Brummer, Amber & Tracy Shelton, Geoffrey Abbott, Kelsey & Trevour Wiltshire, and Courtney Abbott; great grandchildren, Tyler & Lexi Shelton, Savannah & Ruger Brummer, and Norah Violet Wiltshire; and sister, Rosetta O’Dell.
Joseph Garvon Crabb was born on December 18, 1927 in Harrisburg, IL to Garvon & Elsie Martin Crabb. After high school, he entered the U.S. Navy where he served in the signal corps on the aircraft carrier, USS Philippine Sea. The highlight of his naval career was deployment in Operation Highjump, accompanying Admiral Richard Byrd on his return to Antarctica. Joe married Ethel Bullock after returning to his family’s farm in Pope County. Having developed a love for aviation during his naval years, Joe went on to gain employment with American Airlines serving primarily in St. Louis. He thoroughly enjoyed that career and the travel it afforded his family of 3. But when the news arrived a number of years later that Joe & Ethel would welcome another child, they made the decision to return to Pope County and live a simpler life. It was upon this return that Joe decided to try his hand at carpentry, the trade of his maternal grandfather. This led to a 20+ year career as Carpentry Instructor at the Job Corps facility in Pope County. He loved the challenge and feelings of accomplishment he derived from carpentry. He enjoyed watching the growth of his students, many arriving from disadvantaged backgrounds with little hope for a better future, and he loved the comradery developed among the instructors…friendships for life. He was also an avid and skilled hunter and fisherman.
Nothing was more important to Joe Crabb than his family, and upon retirement, he involved himself even more fully with his daughters and grandchildren. Until most recently, no memorable family event ever occurred without him, wherever it may have been. He took up genealogy and developed a great book mapping the history of his family. It was during this time he also became interested in preserving the history of the place he called home and became a driving force in the Pope County Historical Society. Perhaps his greatest public achievement was spearheading the confirmation 8 years ago of a portion of the farm he dearly loved as an official segment of the Trail of Tears commemorating the forced relocation of the Cherokee Nation. He became the local expert and little made him happier than giving tours of the Trail to visitors from near and far. An incredibly sharp card player from the time of his teens, he continued to love a good game of cards, frequenting the Pope County Golden Circle in latter years in addition to other games with friends during the week.
Joe Crabb was an honorable man, striving always for what was right. He was generous in every way, particularly in his encouragement and love. He was sharp as a tack, independent, interested in everything and everyone around him, always working for good, yet he remained incredibly modest. He chose to be happy and always had a smile and humor to offer. Most of all, he was a loving husband, father, grandfather and great grandfather, cherished and adored by each member of his family.
Per his wishes, a celebration of his life will be held in the late spring at the family farm with a specific date to follow. All who knew and enjoyed him will be welcomed. The family wishes to offer special thanks to the nurses and staff at the Ray & Kay Eckstein Hospice Care Center at Lourdes Hospital for their incredible care and kindness over the past 2 weeks; to Dr. Blake Leslie and Dr. Keith Kelly for their incessant efforts to address Joe’s worsening condition and provide the very best quality of life possible over the past several years; and heartfelt appreciation for the prayers, food, flowers and other expressions of caring.
For those wishing to honor him, the family requests in lieu of flowers donations be made to the Illinois Trail of Tears Association (P.O. Box 313, Anna, IL 62906), the Pope County Historical Society (P.O. Box 837, Golconda, IL 62938), or the Ray & Kay Eckstein Hospice Care Center (Lourdes Foundation, P.O. Box 7100, Paducah, KY 42002). Messages of condolences for the family may be left online at
Words are insufficient to express the gratitude felt. Though his passing leaves a great void in all of our hearts and lives, our hearts overflow with love and memories from the years we were blessed to have him.

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