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Beuline Alexander Crawford, sponsor of students’ education, dies at 86

March 20, 1928 – Jan. 17, 2015

Beuline Crawford, a Detroit social worker who returned to Buffalo in retirement and was known for financing the education of young people, died here Saturday. She was 86.

Her contributions reached $200,000 and included the above-$19,000-“Angel” level to the “Say Yes” college fund for graduates of Buffalo public high schools.

“She started giving away scholarships in 1997. I had no idea that it was so much,” said Catherine Roberts, her niece. “For the most part, her scholarships went to underprivileged children in Buffalo.”

She made the students she sponsored promise to “pay it forward” and help the next generation when they succeeded. “She was really, really big on that,” said Roberts. “If it hadn’t been for Aunt B, they couldn’t buy books. They couldn’t finish on time.”

A member of the Lincoln Memorial United Methodist Church, she was also a regular volunteer at the Salvation Army, spending Thanksgiving of 2013 serving meals.

“She worked the entire day,” Roberts said. “That just showed the type of person that she was.”

After graduating from high school in Charlotte, her family moved to Buffalo and Crawford earned a bachelor’s degree in sociology from the University of Buffalo.

She moved to Detroit for graduate studies, earning a master’s in social work from Wayne State University and a master’s in sociology from University of Detroit Mercy.

Her career continued in Detroit where she worked for the Wayne County Department of Social Services. She developed a program for housing foster children temporarily when initial family placements did not work out.

After her retirement in 1992, she moved to Buffalo and then Amherst to be closer to family and friends.

She was a lifetime member of the NAACP, the Negro Professional Women’s Club and the National Association of Black Social Workers. She was active in the alumni associations of her alma maters and a member of the Gamma Phi Omega chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha, which she joined in 1948.

She liked taking very long walks, loved musical theater and made a point of attending all the graduations of students she sponsored.

Her husband, Ben Crawford, died many years ago while she was living in Detroit. She is survived by her brothers Joe, Russell, William and Jeffrey, and sisters Margaret Roberts and Carolyn Clarke. A funeral has been planned for noon Friday at Lincoln Memorial United Methodist Church, 641 Masten Ave.