William Richard “Dick” Crockford of Dillon, Mont., 65, passed away from a heart attack early Thursday, Feb. 8, 2018. He was born May 2, 1952, in Los Angeles to William “Bill” Crockford and Doris Driscoll Crockford. He married Deborah Westby Aug. 17, 1974, in Missoula, Mont. Together, they have three daughters, Heather, Rebecca, and Theresa.
Many know Dick from his newspaper work. He loved small-town Montana life and believed firmly in the importance of local newspapers in supporting the communities in which they served. He graduated from the University of Montana’s School of Journalism in 1975 and began his career with the Ronan Pioneer as the editor.
Dick then worked in the news department for KEIN Radio in Great Falls. He edited books for many counties for Montana State’s Centennial. He, Debbie, and eldest daughter, Heather, born in 1978, moved to Rupert, Idaho, where he became the farm editor of the Minidoka County News. While living in Rupert, his second daughter, Rebecca, was born in 1979. In 1982, the family moved to Shelby, Mont., where Dick was the editor of the Shelby Promoter. Their youngest daughter, Theresa, was born in 1983. In 1990, Dick was offered the position of editor at the Anaconda Leader. He continued in that capacity until 1999 when he served as editor for the A.W.A.R.E. Inc. newsletter.
After legislative budget cuts, he returned to the hectic journalism world working for the Boulder Monitor and then as the publisher/editor of the Big Horn County News in Hardin with Yellowstone Newspapers.
In 2007, he and wife, Debbie, had the opportunity to return to their beloved Southwest Montana to his position as publisher for the Dillon Tribune, where he most recently shepherded their move from the original Tribune offices to their new home on Idaho Street.
To say Dick was an active member of his community would be an understatement. He and his wife, Debbie, lived a life of service to their many hometowns, their family, and their church. Over the years, he was active in the Knights of Columbus, Kiwanis, the MISTER (Males In Service To Encourage Reading) Reader Program at Head Start and various elementary schools, annual trips to Tijuana, Mexico, to build houses, Montana Catholic youth formation, Montana Newspaper Association, United Way, Beaverhead County Museum Board, also he volunteered as assistant cross-country coach in Anaconda, among so many other organizations. The loss of his presence will be deeply felt.
Dick adored his wife, Debbie, and they could often be seen attending local cultural events together ranging from Pow Wows in Eastern Montana to Butte’s own Irish Festival, An Ri Ra. He loved cooking elaborate meals for his soulmate which often featured beer as an ingredient. Whenever sons-in-law or other out-of-town visitors were in Dillon, he loved to visit “the park” as he jokingly referred to the many wonderful Montana breweries.
He was a man who loved to laugh and doted on his daughters. He went so far as to take his youngest on a service trip to Tijuana, Mexico, when she was 16 to build houses with the Esperanza Program. While there he fell in love with the communities and families he encountered and continued to go South, sometimes with his youngest, sometimes with his eldest, sometimes by himself as the pull on his heart was so strong.
Dick was preceded in death by his parents, grandparents, many aunts and uncles, and his younger brother, Thomas Crockford. He is survived by his wife, Debbie Crockford; daughters Heather (Chauncey) Boese, Rebecca (Jeremy) Combs, and Theresa (Andrew) Unbehend; sisters Maryellen Crockford, Theresa (Matthew) Norman, Mary Pat Crockford; brothers, Paul (Shirley) Crockford, Patrick (Veronica) Crockford, and Christopher Crockford, as well as grandchildren Sydney, Lauryn, and Cayden Combs and Liam and Quincey Boese.
Visitation was Feb. 12 from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m., and was followed by a Rosary at Brundage Funeral Home 300 S. Atlantic St., Dillon, Mont. The Funeral Mass was Tuesday, Feb. 13, at St. Rose of Lima Parish 226 S. Atlantic St., Dillon, Mont.
In lieu of flowers, the family asks memorials be made to Esperanza International, one of Dick’s favorite organizations at http://esperanzaint.org/.