Friends harvest crops of deceased Crawfordsville man
In a tribute to the late Jack Erwin of Crawfordsville, about 50 people gathered last week to help the family harvest his crops. Erwin died Oct. 7 of ALS at age 77, just as the harvest season was about to get under way. Friends of the family responded by pooling their resources to harvest a few hundred acres of the Erwins’ corn and beans.
The group of volunteers got together Oct. 11, one day after the funeral, to harvest 300 acres of beans. The volunteers used 15 combines that day. On Friday, more people came together to harvest 250 acres of corn using 12 combines. In addition to the extra help on the farm, volunteers baked cookies for the family and the workers.
Dave Erwin, Jack’s son, said he appreciated the support of Jack’s friends who helped with the harvest.
“We’ve got a lot of people who wanted to help in some way or fashion,” he said. “They can’t do anything for him, but they want to help, and this is how they’re helping.”
Dave said his father was a community-oriented person who did a lot of things for his friends and neighbors and his church, the United Church of Crawfordsville.
“He, himself, helped on these types of harvests for people who were in need,” he said.
Debbie Lowe, a neighbor and friend of the family, said the large number of volunteers was a testament to how highly Jack was regarded in the community.
“He knew everybody, and not just in the Crawfordsville area but in surrounding communities,” she said. “He’d be the first person to be out here helping somebody else, and he’s done that in the past.”
Lowe remembers Jack as a caring man who was genuinely interested in everyone he met.
“He was a friendly guy,” she said. “He was easy to love.”
Tammy Erwin, Dave’s wife, said it was humbling to see people helping with the harvest.
“It’s nice to know there are so many good people in this world who want to do things for others,” she said.
“Small communities come together,” Lowe said. “It’s what we do.”
Lowe’s husband, Wayne, was a good friend of Jack’s. The two of them enjoyed going to cattle sales and horse shows together in the sandhills of Nebraska. They knew a rancher out there whom they helped with branding in the spring.
Ruth, Jack’s wife, said going to Nebraska was a treat for her husband. One of Jack’s friends went with him on a trip to Nebraska, thinking that he would introduce Jack to a few of his friends there.
“He came to find out that Jack knew more people than he did,” Ruth said.
Jack grew up on a farm near Washington and moved to Olds at a young age. He and Ruth moved to the Crawfordsville area in 1966. Ruth said Jack got to know many people both from having lived in a few communities and through his work as a cattle supplier at a local livestock market.
Jack remained active on the farm until earlier this year. Dave said he helped put the crops in the ground in the spring. Debbie said that a lot of farmers work until they can’t work anymore.
“Working is in their blood,” she said. “I don’t think they’d know what to do with themselves if they weren’t farming.”
Tammy added, “They love what they do. They just don’t want to stop.”
Ruth said Jack did a lot of work but never boasted about it.
“He went about doing his work and doing good things in a quiet way,” she said. “There was no big fanfare in anything he ever did. I think that’s why people really liked him. He was always everybody’s friend.”
Ruth said she could not put into words the gratitude she felt for her friends who came out to help.
“I don’t know how to explain it,” she said. “Most of the people helping are neighbors and friends from church, and they’re not just from this community but from other communities, too.”