A soaring soul
College of Arts & Sciences
After what seemed like weeks of cloud filled skies darkening the University of North Dakota, the sun finally shed a little light on a remembrance ceremony held for longtime University of North Dakota faculty member Glinda Crawford on Friday, July 15.
Rows of chairs for visitors lined the sidewalk next to the Soaring Eagle Prairie Garden, which Crawford was instrumental in creating, as people began to trickle in. Within a matter of minutes, the seats were filled, and visitors began lining the sides of the chairs, standing and talking as they awaited the beginning of the ceremony.
Crawford, professor emerita, spent many years as a member of the sociology department at UND and also was a home economics teacher at the school. She also was an artist, environmentalist and ecologist whose legacy lives on in the Soaring Eagle Prairie garden, on the main UND quad south of the Chester Fritz Library.
Crawford, and her husband, Richard, a UND Chester Fritz Distinguished Professor of biology emeritus, retired in 2005, when they moved back to Glinda’s native Missouri. Glinda died in January. She was 67.
As Richard and Melanie Crawford, daughter of Glinda, made their way toward the remembrance ceremony, they were engulfed by a crowd of well-wishers who embraced them as they neared, sharing a few words and a few tears.
Robert Newman, an associate professor of biology at UND and a friend of both Richard and Glinda, looked skyward and reflected on the day.
“I can see elements of Glinda’s presence everywhere,” Newman says. “This is the first sunny day in weeks I can remember.”
As 10:30 a.m., approached, Courtney Souvannasacd, with UND’s American Indian Student Services, addressed the crowd from a podium. She adjusted the microphone and welcomed everyone.
“Glinda must be upon us,” she said,” because we have a beautiful day.”
Souvannasacd invited Michelle Kozel, also with American Indian Student Services, to join her at the podium. Kozel began saying simple words and phrases that might inspire memories of Glinda, such as “friend,” “mother,” “planting seeds,” “generosity,” “eagles” and “honey bees.” The words resonated with the attendees, many of whom nodded and slowly wiped away tears.
Souvannasacd then asked everyone to stand and remove their hats as the Rivers Edge Drum corps performed a prayer song. A cool breeze flowed in as the drum beats intensified, providing temporary relief from the steadily warming sun.
Kathy Fick, a minister at the Christus Rex Lutheran Campus Center, then led the crowd in a prayer, reflecting on Crawford’s impact on UND and everywhere she has ever been.
Kay Mendick, director of the UND Women’s Center recalled how she always looked up to Crawford as a teacher and a friend.
“It’s like she’s standing here right next to me saying ‘Get busy! We have so much work to do!’” Mendick said. “I love that woman with all my heart. She will always be a part of everyone’s life.”
‘Tracks we leave’
Students, peers, family and friends of Crawford followed Medick with more testimonies of how Crawford touched their lives.
Roberta Beauchamp, a fundraiser with the UND Alumni Association and Foundation, announced the endowment of a scholarship in Crawford’s name, to be given out annually to select students.
Richard Crawford and Melanie Crawford added a few words in remembrance of their wife and mother. Melanie fought back tears as she thanked everyone in attendance. Richard simply said, “we will be known forever by the tracks we leave, and Glinda is leaving some big tracks.”
The ceremony concluded with everyone holding hands and creating a large circle around the Soaring Eagle Prairie Garden as the Rivers Edge Drum corps played a final song. As the circle slowly rotated around the garden to the beat of the drums, some people simply side stepped while others move their hips and looked toward the sky. As they gazed upward, several people in attendance notice a hawk slowly circling overheard, while a monarch butterfly fluttered in the garden -- both creatures were favorites of Crawford.
Lyrics sang by the Rivers Edge Drum corps filled the garden, providing a lasting impression to the event:
There’s nothing in this world I wouldn’t do to be there holding you. So don’t you cry, close your eyes and I will be there holding you.
Edison, Matt, "A soaring soul" (2016). UND News Archive. 1300.