Rex Crawley loses his bout with cancer

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A true beacon in every sense of the word, Rex Crawley’s passion for life and his commitment to the betterment of the community and its people always shone through.

Even while fighting for his own life, he still managed to advocate for the lives of others.

Crawley, who had been battling non-hodgkins lymphoma, lost his bout early Nov. 25 with his wife Daria by his side at Shadyside Hospital. He was 49.

Crawley, who earned his doctorate at Ohio State University, was the assistant dean and a professor at Robert Morris University’s School of Communications and Information Systems. He also  served as the endowed chair and executive director of the Uzuri Think Tank and as the co-director of the Black Male Leadership Development Institute. Crawley  is survived by his wife, Daria, and  two sons, Xavier and Vaughn.

In a statement released Monday, Robert Morris University President Gregory Dell’Omo said, “…Rex had a profound and lasting impact on hundreds of young men throughout the Pittsburgh region — just one example of his exemplary service to the larger community.”

He added. “Rex will be missed greatly as he was such an integral part of the RMU family, and our thoughts and prayers go out to his wife Daria, who is an associate professor of management at Robert Morris, and their young sons Xavier and Vaughn.”

As the co-director of the Urban League of Greater Pittsburgh and Robert Morris sponsored BMLDI, Crawley, who served his position for six years, was responsible for guiding African-American males in grades nine through 12 through a yearlong program designed to increase educational and leadership opportunities.

Sabrina Saunders, co-director of the BMLDI and director of the Education and Youth Development Department at the Urban League, said, “Today we lost an amazing man, a true example of God’s love. What I will remember the most about Rex is his undeniable faith and dedication to his family and community. As co-director for the Black Male Leadership Institute, Rex has without question, changed the minds, hearts and undoubtedly helped save the lives of hundreds of African-American boys in the Pittsburgh region.”

She went on to say, “His life taught me what one person’s dedication can accomplish through strength, leadership and selfless love. Rex believed that we should expect excellence from our young men, but that we should greet them with compassion and understanding. He is an irreplaceable part of the BMLDI family and his legacy will live on through the many lives that he has touched and helped to change for the better.

Among many other things, one of Crawley’s recent tasks was advocating for African-Americans to get tested and become not only bone marrow donors, but organ donors as well.

In his last interview with the New Pittsburgh Courier, Crawley spoke of his bout with cancer and his determination to get more African-Americans registered in the article, “Black marrow donors needed for Crawley to win his bout.”

“I’m hoping my story will enlighten the community because I am committed to increasing awareness of this issue. Even if we are unable to find a match for me, my concern is for the thousands of cancer patients that are living day-by-day and waiting for a match, he said.

“We, as a community, have to come together and get past the stigma of donation, not just with bone marrow, but organ donation too. I’m asking people to just get tested, get on the list. Without getting registered you never know if you have the opportunity to save someone’s life.”

He also regularly maintained a blog documenting his experience with the disease.

Crawley was also an active member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity and served on the boards of the Community College of Allegheny County, the August Wilson Center for African American Culture and the National Marrow Donors Program.

A viewing will be held for family and friends on Nov. 29 from 3-8 p.m. at Triumph Baptist Church, 1293 Mt. Nebo Rd., Pittsburgh, with a Sigma Pi Phi Fraternity Inc. ceremony at 6 p.m. and a Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity Inc. Chapter invisible ceremony at 7:11 p.m., both open to the public.

There will also be a viewing on Nov. 30 from 10 a.m.-12 p.m. at Calvary Church, 255 N. Fifth St., in Steubenville, Ohio, followed by a home going service from 12-2 p.m.

In a Facebook posting of the arrangements, Daria Crawley, thanked everyone for their continued support and prayers for their family.

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