Jameson Crane, philanthropist and former head of Crane Plastics, dies at 95

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Jameson Crane, pictured in a 2002 Dispatch file photo, died Wednesday.
Jameson Crane, pictured in a 2002 Dispatch file photo, died Wednesday.

Jameson "Jim" Crane Sr., former head of Crane Plastics, died Wednesday at his Bexley home.

Crane, 95, served as the head of the family company from 1992 until his retirement in 2003 and is the namesake for the Jameson Crane Sports Medicine Institute at the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center. The institute was created in 2016 from a $10 million gift by three generations of the Crane family, known for being local philanthropists.

“I cannot imagine a better community partner than the Crane family in general, and Jameson in particular,” Dr. Christopher Kaeding, executive director of sports medicine at the institute, said earlier this year according to an Ohio State University story on the institute's five-year anniversary. “Their partnership and generosity are at the heart of our ability to expand this program and impact so many lives.”

Born on March 14, 1926, Crane was a 1947 graduate of Ohio State, and his obituary describes him as being "adored for his genial charm, good looks, loving and fun personality, his sportsmanship and his genuine delight in all the people he met throughout life."

Crane met his wife of 59 years, Ann Burba Crane, while in college. They married in 1948 and had four children together. She died in 2007.

He remarried five years ago to Laura Dehlendorf. His two older siblings, Betty Crane Wayman and Robert "Bob" Crane Jr., and their spouses preceded him in death, including his sister-in-law Loann Crane, a well-known philanthropist, who died in November at age 96.

In 1947, Crane's father, Robert Sellers Crane, started the Taytec Corporation, which became Crane Plastics. Crane started working there in 1960; the company is now led by third- and fourth-generation members of the family.

Throughout his lifetime, Crane served the community by sitting on a number of boards, including those of the United Way, St. Alban's Episcopal Church, the Columbus School for Girls and Nationwide Children's Hospital. He and his wife Ann traveled the world, playing golf, in their later years.

Crane's family lost everything during the Depression when he was a child, according to his obituary, and it shaped his life and was a big reason he was committed to helping others.

"It had a great effect on my dad," said his son, Michael Crane, 68. "One thing it did for Dad, it had a big impact on his modesty, knowing your fortunes can change at any time.

"My Uncle Bob and my dad both, it led them to be fairly conservative in their outlook."

Michael Crane said the elder Crane was a wonderful father.

"It’s pretty amazing, so many people have said to me over time that he was one of the nicest people they had ever met," he said. "He really helped create such a wonderful culture, his being so caring."

Tanny Crane, president and CEO of the Crane Group, was Jameson Crane's niece.

"His legacy is, I would say, his caring about our associates more than anything else," she said. "He never forgot a name, ever."

She said that in the community, he was the most charismatic and caring person anyone had ever met.

"He was kind of old school. He believed everybody deserved a chance. He believed in the good of everybody," she said.

Even after he finally retired in 2003, he came into the office each day until the COVID-19 pandemic began in 2020. Tanny Crane joked that he was called the CMO — "The Chief Meddling Officer," she said.

"He was invaluable to all our associates," she said.

Jameson Crane attended Upper Arlington High School, where he played football, basketball and track. He enlisted in the U.S. Navy after graduation in 1944 and then went to Ohio State when World War II ended. There he played football and was a three-year starter, according to his obituary.

Former Columbus Mayor Greg Lashutka said he had a connection with Jameson Crane since they both played football at Ohio State.

"He was one of the best guys ever. He and his brother Bob were two patriarchs who made Columbus great," Lashutka said.

Lashutka said he sought Crane's advice while he was in public office and privately.

"He understood right and wrong. He understood what hard work meant," he said.

Arrangements are by Schoedinger Funeral and Cremation Service and a memorial service will be planned in the spring.

In lieu of flowers, the family is requesting donations in Crane's memory to the Gifts of Kindness Fund at The Columbus Foundation; St. Alban's Episcopal Church; or a charity of the donor's choice.

dking@dispatch.com

@DanaeKing

mferench@dispatch.com

@MarkFerenchik

This article originally appeared on The Columbus Dispatch: Jameson Crane, philanthropist and businessman, dies at 95

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