Robert Orr “Bob” Crawford ’49

Dr. Robert O. Crawford, Jr., (Bob, or “Doc” to his family and friends), 93, of The Village at Brookwood, passed away on December 9, 2021. He is survived by his devoted wife of 71 years, Ann Woodson Crawford. Dr. Crawford was a true southern gentleman. He demonstrated throughout his life his strong faith in God and the importance of family, education, hard work, and good manners.

Dr. Crawford was born on May 4, 1928, and raised in Gastonia, North Carolina, the only child of R.O. Crawford and Edna Lattimore Crawford. He achieved the rank of Eagle Scout. He was an outstanding student at Gastonia High School class of 1946. Dr. Crawford graduated from Davidson College in three years by taking summer school classes at UNC Chapel Hill so he could quickly move on to medical school.

On June 5, 1950, he married Ann Woodson, the daughter of Presbyterian missionaries to Brazil, who he met at Queens College. In 1954, he graduated from Bowman Gray School of Medicine at Wake Forest University. Dr. Crawford served in the United States Navy at Camp Lejeune taking care of marines and their families. In 1957, he took over a general family practice of medicine in Claremont, North Carolina where he was the only physician. He worked tirelessly and regularly made house calls to over half of Catawba County. In 1966, Dr. Crawford commenced a three-year residency in ophthalmology at UNC Chapel Hill and what was then McPherson Hospital in Durham.

In 1969, Dr. Crawford came to Burlington to practice ophthalmology. He specialized in cataract surgery and was thus able to save the sight of countless grateful patients in and around Alamance County. Dr. Crawford was an active member of First Presbyterian Church. He was an avid supporter of the basketball team at what was then Elon College.

In 1985, Dr. Crawford accepted a new challenge when he relocated to Tarboro, North Carolina here he was a leader of the medical staff of Heritage Hospital (now Vidant Edgecombe Hospital). He was a member of Howard Memorial Presbyterian Church. Upon his “retirement” he continued to practice ophthalmology several days per week in New Bern and Morehead City. In 2000, Dr. Crawford decided to fully retire from ophthalmology and return with Ann to Burlington.

Dr. Crawford was a life-long learner. He acquired knowledge and proficiency in numerous fields of endeavor throughout his long and prosperous life. He earned his private pilot’s license and for many years owned a single engine plane. Although a highly accomplished eye surgeon, he most loved working on his farms in Burlington and Tarboro. He raised cattle and horses in Burlington. In Tarboro, he bred, trained and showed champion American Paint Horses. Since age four, horses were his greatest love.

Dr. Crawford did not just have mere hobbies, he had an inquisitive mind and was passionate about his interests. At various times his endeavors included coaching youth basketball, playing golf and teaching the game to his sons and grandsons, quail hunting, collecting antiques, and acquiring metalworking machinery. He was an American history buff from reading all of his life. In later years, he studied the stock market. In retirement, he became a highly accomplished woodworker. He leaves behind numerous exquisite pieces of furniture, large and small. During the past few years at The Village at Brookwood he was an avid student of the game of bridge.

In addition to his wife, Ann, Dr. Crawford is survived by their children: Sherrill Beaman (Randy) of Tarboro, Mary Edna Fogleman (Jim) of Raleigh, Robert O. Crawford III (Renee) of Raleigh, and John W. Crawford (Amy) of Burlington. In 1981, they lost their daughter, Frances Venable, to cancer. He described the loss of Frances at age 26 as the most difficult and transforming event of his life. Dr. Crawford was the immensely proud grandfather of 12 grandchildren, two step-grandchildren, and to date, 16 great-grandchildren.

The family will receive friends at 10:00 a.m. in the sanctuary of Graham Presbyterian Church on Thursday, December 16, 2021, followed by a memorial service at 11:00 a.m.

In lieu of flowers, donations in memory of Dr. Crawford may be made to Wake Forest School of Medicine, Office of Philanthropy, P.O. Box 571021, Winston-Salem, NC 27157-1021 or Graham Presbyterian Church Community Life Center building fund, P.O. Box 1089, Graham, NC 27253.

Rich & Thompson Funeral and Cremation Service in Burlington is assisting the family.

Condolences may be offered at

Copyright, 2021, Times-News (Burlington, NC).