John W. Crane Print E-mail

John W. Crane

Devoted husband, world-class parent, compassionate businessman, avid golfer.


John W. Crane, 83, of Mt. Pleasant, South Carolina, but for many years a resident of Lowell, MA and Rye Beach, NH, passed away peacefully on Thursday, February 22, 2024, at the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston, SC after a brief illness.

A well-known member of the Greater Lowell community, John was the retired co-owner and operator of the O’Donnell Funeral Home in Lowell, MA and the Pelham Funeral Home in Pelham, NH for many years.  Additionally, he was an adjunct professor of Funeral Management at Mount Ida College in Newton, MA.

It is often said that funeral directors are “the last guys to let you down.”  That phrase summed up John Crane perfectly as his unique gift was caring for others. His compassion and dedication to those he helped in times of grief was just as genuine as the joy and love he shared with his own family and friends.  His generous spirit, unflagging kindness, and openness to the stories of everyone he met created personal connections that were sometimes momentary but, most often, lifelong.

The youngest son of a physician, John’s life was dedicated to service, starting with his time in the US Navy and followed by support of many local organizations such as the Coalition for a Better Acre, Academy of Notre Dame, Seafarers Association and East Cooper Meals on Wheels.  He was also honored to be appointed to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Board of Funeral Directors and Embalming from 1988 – 1993. Also, John served on the Massachusetts Funeral Directors Association, serving as President in 2000 – 2001.

He was the loving husband, for over 58 years, of M. Patricia “Pat” (O’Donnell) Crane, who survives him.  John and Pat were known for always putting family first. “Baba” as he was affectionately known in the family, was the first one to hit the dance floor, order ice cream, taste-test Christmas cookies, hit golf balls, and let the grandkids drive his prized yellow Thunderbird. He captured all these moments, and many others, for the Crane family with his passion for photography, which he handed down to his children and grandchildren.

One of John’s greatest joys was playing golf, which he played collegiately and subsequently won many tournaments, particularly in competitive senior events. His skill as a player that, sadly, was not handed down to his children was only exceeded by his enjoyment teaching the game and looping with his family.  He also cherished being a member of Vesper Country Club for many years and then Abenaqui Country Club, just down the street from the Drake House in Rye Beach, NH, where he and Pat summered for the last 12 years.

John also enjoyed skiing, travel, cooking, reading, sudoku puzzles, playing bridge, and puttering around the house.  He could fix just about anything and shared his interests with friends and family whenever possible.  John’s life was truly lived to the fullest.

Born in Holden, Massachusetts, November 13, 1940, the son of the late Dr. Edward J. Crane M.D. and the late Louise (Dumont) Crane. Faith was central to John, as a communicant of the Immaculate Conception Church in Lowell, MA, St. Theresa’s Church in Rye Beach, NH and Saint Benedict’s Church in Mt. Pleasant, SC.  John attended Holden schools and was a graduate of St. John’s Prep in Danvers, MA, Class of 1958. He went on to graduate from Providence College with a Bachelor of Science in 1962.

In addition to his wife, Pat, John is survived by his son Chip Crane and his wife Kimberly of Mt. Pleasant, SC; his daughter Catherine Halloran and her husband Frank of Westfield, NJ; his son Stephen and his wife Kelli of Rye Beach, NH; his grandsons William Crane, TJ Halloran, Jack Crane and Liam Halloran; and his granddaughters Morgan Halloran, Catherine Crane, Langley Crane, and Cooper Crane.

He is also survived by his sister Helen “Tookie” Van Son of Huntingtown, Maryland; brother-in-law James Keenan of Lowell, MA; sister-in-law Ruthie Crane of Hollis, NH; sister-in-law Peggy (O’Donnell) Lawlor and her husband Jim of Waterbury, CT; brother-in-law Jim O’Donnell and his wife Trish of Lowell, MA; his godsons Edward “Ted” Crane III of Venice, FL and Mark Leahey of Washington, DC; and many beloved nieces and nephews.   In addition to his parents, he preceded in death by his siblings Mary Lou Crane Keenan and Atty. Edward  Crane Jr.; his in-laws Jimmy and Kay O’Donnell, George Van Son, and Polly O’Donnell.

Friends may call at the O’DONNELL FUNERAL HOME at 276 PAWTUCKET ST. in Lowell on Friday March 1, 2024, from 3:00 to 7:00 P.M. His Funeral Mass will take place on Saturday morning at the IMMACULATE CONCEPTION CHURCH in LOWELL, MA, at 11:00 A.M.  (Please meet at church). E-condolences/directions at   Those wishing may make contributions in his memory to East Cooper Meals on Wheels or to the Lowell General Hospital Cancer Center (  Arrangements by Funeral Director James F. O’Donnell, Jr. (978) 458-8768.

Condolences (5)
  • Bunny, Brian and Sean Murphy
    With Deepest Sympathy may you find comfort with family and friends
  • Stephen Crane  - John Crane's Eulogy
    Delivered by Stephen Crane at Church Butch to Baba On behalf of my entire family, thank you for being here to honor our beloved husband, father, brother, brother-in-law, uncle, godfather, and, to his greatest joy, grandfather. The story of John Crane began on November 13, 1940 when he became the fourth, and youngest, child to Dr. Edward and Louise Crane in Holden, Mass. The summers of his youth were spent in Rye Beach where he met his future wife. When they met each other, they were Patsy and Butch, names that neither of them really liked so when they became a couple, they rebranded as Pat and John. Soon they would have two OK kids and then, at last, bring a true genius into the world. They were married on February 19, 1966; they celebrated their 58th anniversary three days before his passing. “Al di là” was their wedding song, which translate to “on the other side” or “beyond.” Throughout their married life, their shared values, deep faith, and always doing the right thing even when it was difficult helped them always move beyond challenges. Their union was a true partnership, especially when Pat reentered the workforce when they moved back to Lowell. John was an equal partner in performing domestic responsibilities, including making dinner, cleaning, and grocery shopping, which defied the traditional gender roles he grew up with. Of course, any meal prepared by John was always “not too bad for a thrown together meal” and concluded with the declaration, “that’s it, end of the hunt.” He also loved doing projects around the house but, being an astute businessman, delegated certain parts of the work. The annual arrival of the giant pile of bark mulch meant two solid days of back-breaking indentured servitude for my siblings and me. And I swear it rained every year. During the first years of marriage, John was building a successful career as a regional branch manager for the Fisher Scientific company. He may have had a good job with Fisher, but funeral directing was his calling. When he and Pat moved to Lowell, it enabled John to help bridge continuation of the O’Donnell and Sons Funeral Home from his father-in-law, who was nearing retirement, to his brother-in-law, who you will hear from shortly. The gifts of empathy, leadership, and strength that he was born with were regularly needed and applied while he helped so many families through their darkest hours. After serving the Greater Lowell community both at the funeral home and through many volunteer boards, it took a lot of courage for he and Pat to leave the city they both have given so much to and relocate to South Carolina to, in effect, start over. If we have seen one thing over the past 13 years, the move to Mt. Pleasant, combined with the summers in Rye Beach, were great decisions that made our family’s life fuller in ways that we never could have imagined. The overwhelming support we have received during this difficult time confirmed what we already know: John W. Crane was a great guy. BUT, we wouldn’t be telling all of the story if we didn’t acknowledge that maybe sometimes he wasn’t the most patient person. Say, for example, if people weren’t golfing at his preferred pace. And I won’t even go there on his cellphone etiquette. And while we had our share of “teaching moments” from him, his evolution into a very patient, doting grandfather, Baba, was all the more remarkable. Not only was he endlessly patient with his grandchildren, who brought him joy every day, but also he was in the moment far more than he was before retirement. He stayed positive and in the moment all through the final weeks of his life, which was a great comfort to us and why we believe his passing was so peaceful and painless. One trait that did not change throughout the years was that he LOVED telling stores and jokes. Sometimes they were even funny! But all kidding aside, John was masterful at using storytelling to connect with almost everyone he met because not only did have the storyteller’s memory for both details and meaning, he was always adding to his repertoire because of how much he enjoyed other people’s stories. In fact, most stories he told weren’t about him at all. John’s generous spirit is legendary and he was known in our family by the albeit self-selected nickname of “The Giver,” a bit of grandiosity that we let slide because both he and Pat were so generous with all of their resources to family, friends, and their communities. That generosity, as well as John’s total commitment to everything he put his energy into, yielded many accomplishments and awards, true friendships, and the absolute certainty that he made the corners of the world he occupied better than he found them. As we say “see you Al di là” to John, I will leave you today with his final words, spoken to Pat as he knew his time was ending: Thank you.
  • Marilyn Campbell
    So sorry to hear of John’s passing. He was a true gentleman. My thoughts and prayers are with you. My deepest sympathy Marilyn Campbell
  • Gisele Blanchette Levasseur
    I remember John and his wife Pat as when I was in highschool I babysat Chip and Catherine when they lived upstairs from the funeral home. I have fond memories of spending time with the two young children and watching Pat and John all dressed up to go out. They were such a kind couple. I am certain that John will be missed although it has been years since I have seen them but I have never forgottem them. RIP John.
  • Roberta Loucraft Emerson
    My sincere condolences to the Crane and O'Donnell families. John was one of the most caring individuals, always putting others first. So sad to hear this news, sending peace and comfort to all of his family. Thank you for being so good to our family over the years.
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