Alan Crane: Business leader and mentor, champion of the Jewish deaf dies

Alan Crane Obit image

Alan Crane was born on July 16, 1924 and died peacefully in the early morning of Feb. 23, 2014; he was 89.

An energetic and creative salesman in the folding carton industry, Crane started his own business in 1962 and built his fledgling company into a thriving factory employing more than 200 people he cherished. Crane ran it for 40 years and by 2000, it was posting $43 million a year in sales. PPIMagazine, a trade magazine covering his industry, called Crane Carton Co., "a premier independent folding carton facility." Crane was a strong force in the folding carton industry, mentoring and helping others whenever he could; he was proud of his employee's loyalty, telling the trade magazine, "We have practically no employee turnover."

In 1992, Crane- along with fellow Chicago business leaders Joan & Stan Golder and Howard Roseblum and Rabbi Dr. Douglas Goldhamer- established the Hebrew Seminary, A Rabbinical School for Deaf & Hearing. It was the first seminary to specifically train deaf and hearing people to become rabbis and teachers serving not only hearing people, but the numerous Jewish deaf communities in United States.

Crane served on JUF's Task Force for Services for the Disabled in the 1990s and its Campaign Policy Committee in the 1980s. He chaired JUF's Paper Division, and participated in many JUF Snowbird events in Palm Beach, even hosting one. Additionally, he was a Golden Giver to JUF's Annual Campaign.

"Alan was a good friend. Once you became his friend, you stayed his friend," said Jeffrey Cohen, JUF Senior Development Advisor, who knew Crane for nearly 35 years. "He was always good at giving advice."

Crane was also a member of the executive board of JVS Chicago in the 2000s, and its board of directors. "He brought his vision and commitment to JVS Chicago, ensuring that those most at-risk in our community were cared for. He was a thought leader, a passionate advocate and a gentle spirit," said Janice A. Kaufman, director of JVS Institutional Advancement.

The Duman Entrepeneurship Center is a program of JVS, and Crane served on its Loan Approval Committee as well as chairing its Loan Oversight Committee. "He was incredibly generous of spirit and worked with small business owners to ensure their success," recalled Donna Rockin, director, IL SBDC/Duman Entrepreneurship Center at JVS Chicago.

After three years in the army during WWII, Crane received his undergraduate degree from Northwestern University. He loved the outdoors and was a dedicated golfer and an outstanding, powerful skier.

Crane was the son of the late Sigmund and Bertha "Buddy" Crane. He was married to Lori (Meyerovitz) for 41 years. He was the father of Beth, Jennifer (Burt Weinstein), and Bruce (Laura Cooper) Crane, and the stepfather of Karen, David (Mary Kenney), and John (Lynn) Manilow. The brother of the late Doty Weil (late Bert), he was the uncle of Laura (Ed) Cohn and the brother-in-law of Marilyn Paul (Bob Holstein) and Robert (Ellie) Meyers. And he was the Papa of Carrie (Adam) Scott, Lindsay (Patrick) Fagan, Jeffrey, Brian, and Eric Smolensky, Sarah and Benjamin Crane, Alex and Amy Cole, and Aaron, Jackson, Maya, Noah, Oliver, and Nate Manilow, and the great-grandfather of Sheanan and Lennon Scott.

Funeral services were held at Temple Beth Israel in Skokie on Feb. 26, with internment at Shalom Memorial Park. Arrangements were made by Chicago Jewish Funerals.

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to Hebrew Seminary or Congregation Bene Shalom, both at 4435 W. Oakton St., Skokie, IL 60076.

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