Rev. Dr. John Alexie “Lex” Crane died on August 7, 2015 at the age of 93.
Lex was born in Baltimore, MD on January 14, 1922 to John A. and Minnie E. Crane. He graduated from the Baltimore Polytechnic Institute in 1939, and served in the U.S. Army in the South Pacific and Europe from 1942 to 1945. He was severely wounded during the Battle of the Bulge. He went on to receive a Bachelor of Arts in English in 1949 and a Master of Arts in Creative Writing in 1950 from Johns Hopkins University; a Master of Divinity from Starr King School for the Ministry in 1951; and a Master of Arts in Social Psychology from the University of California in 1971.
Rev. Crane was ordained by the First Unitarian Church in Vancouver, BC in 1952 and served thirty-six years in parish ministry. He served as called minister to the Unitarian Church of Vancouver from 1951 to 1955; the Unitarian Universalist Community Church of Park Forest, IL from 1955 to 1958; the Unitarian Society of Santa Barbara, CA from 1958 to 1977; and the Jefferson Unitarian Church of Golden, CO from 1977 to 1981. He went on to serve as the Director of Ministerial Education for the Unitarian Universalist Association from 1981 to 1983. He was next called to the Unitarian Universalist Church of Yakima, WA and served there until his retirement in 1987, upon which he was voted Minister Emeritus. He spent the next fifteen years serving various interim ministries in Southern California. In 2002, he was voted Minister Emeritus to the Unitarian Society of Santa Barbara.
Lex involved himself with many denominational organizations and activities. He served three terms on the Executive Board of the Unitarian Universalist Ministers Association (UUMA) - 1963 to 1965, 1973 to 1975 and 1991 to 1992. His passion for ministerial mentoring deepened throughout his time on the board. He served as UUMA Newsletter Editor from 1963 to 1965; member of the Board of Trustees for the Starr King School for the Ministry from 1968 to 1974; faculty of the NorthWest Unitarian Leadership School from 1984 to 1987; and staff of the Unitarian Universalist Leadership School from 1993 to 1995. In 2008, he was awarded the Unitarian Universalist Retired Ministers and Partners Association’s Annual Creative Sage-ing Award.
Outside of the denomination, Lex was involved in numerous social service and progressive political and religious organizations. In the early 1960’s, Lex’s sermon exposing the activities of the John Birch Society in Santa Barbara was spread nationwide by the Associated Press and CBS-TV, contributing to the crippling of the Society across the country. For his role, Lex was awarded an honorary doctorate from Starr King.
Lex became a licensed California Marriage and Family Counselor in 1971. He authored several publications including the booklet “Developing an Extended Family Program” (1972); the books Keeping in Touch: Self, Sex and Society (1975); Love, Sex and the Human Condition: Getting a Life (2006); A New Perspective on the Philosophy of UU Religion (2008); To the Best of My Recollection…a memoir (2012) as well as numerous articles and scholarly papers.
Between interim ministries, Lex and his wife, Ginny, traveled throughout the world. They ventured to Europe, Asia, Australia, New Zealand, and Canada. Most notable of those travels was a semester abroad with Santa Barbara City College to China in 1989. They were witness to the student protests at Tiananmen Square in Beijing.
Lex was a voracious reader and a talented writer. His children fondly remember his intelligence; his son, Jack, wrote: "He developed a love of study, stayed abreast of thinking in literature, the arts, liberal theology, philosophy, and social sciences. This passion coupled with his oratorical skills, made Lex unusually able to communicate the big ideas to folk who didn't have the leisure or luxury of regular study."
Lex is survived by his wife Virginia Lee Crane, his sons John Crane III (Jack), and Douglas L. Crane married to Lisa Babashoff, his step-daughter Claire Beery married to William Haigwood, his step-son Evan Blickenstaff, and his step-son Eric Blickenstaff married to Cynthia Kasabian. He is also survived by grandchildren Molly and Allie; Alex and Kirra; Willow, Mira and Zoë; John and Alex; and two great-grandchildren.
Lex was preceded in death by his son David L. Crane.
A memorial service will be held on November 22, at 3:00 PM, at the Unitarian Society of Santa Barbara, 1535 Santa Barbara St, Santa Barbara, CA 93101
Contributions in Lex’s memory may be made to Unitarian Society of Santa Barbara, 1535 Santa Barbara St., Santa Barbara, CA 93101.
Notes of condolences may be sent to Virginia (Ginny) Crane, 1038 B Calle Sastre, Santa Barbara, CA 93105.
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