2010-06-03 / 15 Minutes

Finally taking time to sit, Bill Crandall starts to take it all in

BY GLORIA PATM ORE Florida Weekly Correspondent Corre

With enthusiasm, energy and the skill of a man half his age, Bill Crandall welcomes comes life and fearlessly takes on its challenges.

We caught up with the 89-year-old just after he  returned from a 15-day trip to Egypt with h his bride of eight years, Betty. In Egypt, the couple rode camels, dined on local  cuisine and stood in awe of the mind-boggling engineering of the ancient pyramids.

Mr. Crandall credits his early experiences ences for shap shaping him to be the person son he is tod today. During his Depression sion-era up upbringing, his parents separated, and the family home became a rooming house for college lege stud students. He learned to take on hous household chores. When his mother became ill and was hospit hospitalized, Mr. Crandall learne learned first hand the meaning ing of t the word responsibility.

At the age of 9, and as the youngest est of six — and five years younger than his closest sibling — Mr. Crandall took a paper route to help supp support the family.

The in ingenuity bug bit.

Some o of the older Crandall children dren wer were grown and gone. An older bro brother, a teacher, taught him how to fix bicycles during the summer. H He parlayed the new skill into a pro profit center for the family.

 

He learned how to cut hair, for practical and profit purposes, and cuts his own hair to this day.

Despite illness, separation and an emptying nest, his mother cultivated a love of adventure in him by bringing home used copies of National Geographic to pique a thirst for exploring cultures around the world.

He earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in ceramic engineering from the State University of New York. His master’s project became patented in 1944. Throughout his career, he would have a total of 14 patents to his credit.

He started two companies, Hi Tech Ceramics and Tufty Ceramics. He made millionaires of three men when he sold his university-held patent. One of the men paid it forward by funding SUNY engineering scholarships in Mr. Crandall’s name.

Another of Mr. Crandall’s patents was the development of fine glass fiber — a substance that would replace asbestos.

During his working career, the Japanese company we know as Panasonic asked him to work in Japan, developing ceramic products. With his wife and three children in tow, Mr. Crandall came to know first hand what it’s like to be the only ethnic family in town.

When he came back from Japan he took a job as vice president of research for Pfaudler Co., a division of Sybron, in Rochester, N.Y. He coordinated ceramic product research for its divisions in Europe, Japan all over the world, and helped develop a new product, Nucerite, a high-tech coating for steel. These work-related opportunities offered him opportunities to continue to explore a multitude of world cultures.

Today, Mr. Crandall is an avid bicyclist, bowler, golfer and fitness walker. He has endured life’s losses. In 1993, he underwent a colostomy. In 2000, he lost his wife of 58 years. He kept his faith and focuses on living in the moment and his faith.

It was because of his faith — as a singer in the church choir — that he met his wife, Betty.

And though he lives in the present and in the future, today, he’s revisiting the past, as he takes time to record his memoirs.

When he’s not biking, bowling, walking, cycling or singing in the church choir, he and Betty travel — to Egypt, of course, and into the western United States, where the couple enjoyed a boat adventure on the Columbia River.

In the South Pacific, they visited Tahiti, Fiji, Australia and New Zealand.

Mr. Crandall has snorkeled off the Great Barrier Reef, taken a riverboat trip from Prague to Vienna, endured a 28-day African Safari and traveled to Ireland and South America.

The father of three, grandfather of five and great-grandfather of five is a happy, wholesome, dedicated family man who can now sit down and record — with warmth, love, and pride — page number 281 of his life’s memoires. ¦

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