Jack Crane passed away peacefully on October 4, 2017, in Long Beach, California.
Jack was born on July 25, 1946 in Baltimore, Maryland. He was the oldest of three boys born to his parents, Lex and Grace Crane. His father, Lex, was a Unitarian-Universalist minister and when Jack was eleven years old, the family moved to Santa Barbara for Lex to take over the ministry at the Unitarian Church on Santa Barbara Street. Jack attended Santa Barbara High School, graduating in 1964, and went on to UCSB. After graduating from UCSB, he spent a year at UC Berkeley studying English literature. He later went on to Harvard Divinity School earning a Master’s Degree in Theology
In 1970, Jack attended his first Alcoholic Anonymous meeting. Between then and 1977, he was in and out of countless detox centers and sat through hundreds of recovery meetings. He said that he wasn’t sure why, but in 1977 he finally got clean and sober. Three years later with his life getting back on track, he married and had two daughters, Molly and Allie, who were the lights of his life. With a young family to support, Jack decided to go back to school and in 1982 moved the family to Boston, where he attended Harvard Divinity School. Jack loved being at Harvard and felt right at home. It was a perfect fit for him at exactly the right time. As part of his degree requirements, he was required to perform various community services. Since he was fluent in Spanish, he began working at a halfway house in Cambridge, counseling their Spanish-speaking residents. He loved the work and found that he was quite good at it. He graduated from Harvard in 1988 with a Master’s Degree and the intention of finding work ministering as his father had.
After graduation, the Cranes moved back to Santa Barbara to be closer to their families. Although Jack had come back to California with the idea of working at a Unitarian Church in the area, he found himself running a program targeting homeless veterans, and quickly realized that drug and alcohol addictions were the first problems that needed to be solved. He learned how to write government grants for funding his projects and was successful in opening up the Hotel de Riviera for Vietnam vets and street people suffering from mental illness. At the time it opened, there were a handful of homeless shelters for Vietnam veterans throughout the country but the Santa Barbara program was the only one designed for veterans suffering from post traumatic stress disorder. Jack, as head of the Homeless Veterans Projects, stated that “we’ve found that homeless veterans seem to fare better when they are living with other veterans than those who live alone.” The Hotel de Riviera continues to this day to provide housing for vets and for those suffering from mental illness. Jack also helped start a program called First Steps which was designed to keep addicted pregnant women drug-free at least until their children were born and participated in an on-going effort to open the Casa Rosa residential detox. In addition, with the help of his friend Joe Rajkovich, Jack opened the Haley Street Center which offered free counseling and 12-step recovery programs to street people and the homeless. As an adjunct to the Haley Street Center, Jack helped to create and operate the Santa Barbara Sobering Center located at 17 E. Haley Street, which is still open, providing an alternative to jail for drunk individuals which, in the opinion of the arresting officers, have not committed any other crime, will not physically resist, and are not a flight risk.
Throughout his adult life, Jack was dedicated to helping people get sober and finding alternatives to living on the street. He always had faith that people could eventually learn a better healthier way to live. Jack was an optimist often stating “Relapse doesn’t mean the end of recovery, it’s part of the recovery process.” In 1990, he was recognized for this effort by being named a Local Hero in the Santa Barbara Independent. It was an honor he was extremely proud of.
Jack is survived by his daughters Molly Tooley (James) and Allie Crane Corrigan (Daniel), his grandchildren, Summer Grace Tooley and Curren James Tooley, brother Doug (Lisa), niece and nephew, Kirra Crane and Alex Crane, and by everyone in the Santa Barbara recovering community that was such an important part of his life.