Surrounded by her family, Agnes Hyacinth Craford died Feb. 24, 2022, in Portland, Ore. She was born Jan. 13, 1924, in Blencoe, Iowa, the third of 10 children of Dominic and Inez (Torticill) Marley. While growing up on the Marley farm near Blencoe, Agnes attended Sherman Township #2 country school and graduated from St. Joseph’s High School in Salix, Iowa. She was just 16, still two years shy of the qualifying age for nursing school, but a whiz at grammar, shorthand, typing, and business math. So, in the interim, she went to work for her father’s friend, Kent Craford, manager of the Agricultural Adjustment Administration in Onawa, Iowa. After two years, she went on to pursue her dream of becoming a registered nurse, enrolling in St. Joseph’s School of Nursing in Sioux City, Iowa. In 1944, on a business trip to Sioux City, Kent, accompanied by his son, Dave, who was on leave from the Army, invited his former employee to lunch.
After she graduated from nursing school, Agnes was hired by Kent to care for his brother, Magnus, who was recovering from a heart attack. Later, while working in an Onawa medical practice, Agnes recognized that it was critical to become more familiar with X-ray technology, and in 1948, she moved to Portland, Ore., to train as an X-ray technician at the University of Oregon Medical School. In the fall of 1949, Agnes moved to Brookings, S.D., to work in a doctor’s office and be near her sweetheart, Dave, while he completed his last year of college. They married Aug. 5, 1950, at St. Bernard’s Catholic Church in Blencoe, and moved to the Craford family farm near Onawa.
After seven years on the farm, Agnes and Dave took a leap of faith and, with their four children, moved to Vancouver, Wash., in the Pacific Northwest, a region they’d fallen in love with in the summer of 1949. During the Vancouver years, 1958- 1978, Dave began building a successful career as an insurance broker. Their family expanded from four kids to five during the Columbus Day windstorm of 1962. Along with raising her children, Agnes worked for a radiologist to earn her Washington X-ray Certification, served as a public health nurse and a clinical nurse, and was involved in activities at St. Joseph’s parish, Jesuit High School, and St. Mary’s Academy.
Dave and Agnes moved to Portland in 1978 and joined St. Elizabeth of Hungary parish. Agnes’ faith was central to her life. She and Dave were active members of their parish community, serving as eucharistic ministers, hosting coffee and donuts, attending the annual church picnic, and participating in the parish golf tournament. Agnes was also a member of the Archbishop’s Seminary Tea Committee.
Once she and Dave became empty nesters, Agnes practiced tai chi, took up golf, and participated in Volkswalks. She even walked the Portland to Coast relay in her early 70s. Forever curious, Agnes was an avid reader and close follower of current events. She and Dave were members of the Portland Art Museum, patrons of the Portland Symphony, frequent theater goers, and enthusiastic sports fans. They were Portland Trail Blazers season ticket holders and loved watching the Jesuit Crusaders and their favorite college football and basketball teams.
But nothing was more important to Agnes than family. Most of her travels were visits to children and grandchildren, brothers and sisters. She and Dave rarely missed a niece or nephew’s wedding and they were always involved in their grandchildren’s and great-grandchildren’s activities.
One of Agnes’ special qualities was her ability to bridge generations. She easily engaged with her children’s friends and both the oldest and youngest members of her family. She gave them all her full attention, made them feel special, and showed a genuine interest in their lives and families.
Agnes was preceded in death by her parents, Dominic and Inez; brothers, Edward and John; and sisters, Katherine and Pauline. She is survived by her husband of 71½ years, Dave Craford; children, Mike (Ardeth) Craford, Roch (Karyn) Craford, Mary Margaret Craford (Patrick Murphy), Barbara (Tom) Manning, Rebecca (Kevin) McAuliffe; nine grandchildren; 11 great-grandchildren; brothers, Steve (Audrey) and Jerry (Margie) Marley; sisters, Jean Pannuto, Monica Smith, and Nan Nalty; her extended family, and many dear friends who felt like family.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be held at 11 a.m., March 12, 2022, at St. Elizabeth of Hungary Catholic Church, 4112 S.W. 6th Ave. Dr., Portland, Oregon. Reception following Mass. Private burial at Sacred Heart Cemetery, Lake Oswego, Ore. In lieu of flowers, please consider donating in Agnes Craford’s memory to the University of Portland School of Nursing Scholarship at giving.up.edu/craford.
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