Vail Daily obituary: Alan Crabbe, 1948-2014

Alan Crabbe and his wife Linda. Alan helped found Vail's rugby tradition.

Alan Crabbe, known simply to most of his friends as “Crabby”, passed away unexpectedly in Healdsburg, California, on Sept. 5 from complications of prostate cancer.

Born in Weston-Super-Mare in the West of England on May 18, 1948 to Ernest and Patricia Crabbe, Alan grew up in a traditional English seaside resort on the edge of the Severn estuary. Looking across the broad expanse of sandy beach, he could see the steel mills of South Wales just 16 miles away.

He attended both private and public schools and then joined his father’s home-decorating business, becoming an expert in paint and wallpaper. This would serve him well later in life. While at school Alan became an accomplished rugby player, a passion that would stay with him throughout his life. After school he became a member of his local club, the Weston Hornets. It was rugby that first brought Alan to the USA, when he joined a tour with the Welsh Charitables to the East Coast. So enamored was he with the USA that within weeks of returning home, he bid the paint business and his family farewell and headed back to the States.

He landed in Washington, D.C., where even today he is remembered by the men as a super nice guy, and by the ladies as being dashing and good-looking. After a stint in the construction business he went to work for the Australian Embassy, but in 1973, on the urging of friends already here, he made his way to Vail. Alan became both a key player on the recently formed Vail Rugby Club and a serious “Club Man,” which meant he played well both on and off the field. A ferocious player, he was liked by all after the game for his pleasant disposition, sense of humor and ready smile.

In Vail he went into the construction business with Bill Brown (Brownie) for a couple of years before moving to Denver, where he lived in Bonnie Brae and became a sales rep for Sherwin-Williams, putting the knowledge he had gained from his dad’s business to good use. He was also a member of the elite Denver Barbarians Rugby Club.

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His next stop was Sacramento, California, where he took advantage of the booming real estate market to do remodel projects of his own before returning to Vail to reform his partnership with Bill Brown. When Brownie received an offer in Lake Tahoe that he could not refuse, Alan was hired by the development arm of Cordillera to oversee construction at Myacama, a Cordillera project in California’s Napa Valley. Alan loved Napa, and to the regret of his many friends in Colorado, it soon became clear that he was finally home. In Healdsburg he met his future wife Linda, with whom he would spend his last 13 and a half years. He embraced the climate, the small town atmosphere, and the simplicity of the local lifestyle, in which he immersed himself. Alan was adopted by Linda’s family and became grandfather to Linda’s grandchildren, attending every sporting event and school activity. He also remained close to his sister, Vivien, and her husband Neil in Weston-Super-Mare, his daughter Zoe and her partner Alex, and grandson Frank in London, England.

Alan is also survived by: his stepdaughter Michaela and her husband Nazem; his niece Beverly and husband Christopher and children Josh, Ben and Olivia; and nephew Russell and his wife Sally.

If Alan is in heaven, more than anything he is hoping that England wins the next Rugby World Cup in 2015.

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