Gilbert Crandall, 91, director of tourism for Maryland

September 01, 2006|By Frederick N. Rasmussen | Frederick N. Rasmussen,sun reporter

Gilbert Albert "Jimpty" Crandall, former director of tourism for the state Department of Economic Development and an early promoter of Annapolis and its history, died of renal failure Aug. 24 at Heritage Harbor Health and Rehabilitation Center. He was 91.

Mr. Crandall was born at his family's home on Conduit Street in Annapolis, and since the 1940s had owned - and later resided in - a home on Spa View Circle.

He was a 1932 graduate of Annapolis High School and earned a bachelor's degree from St. John's College in 1936. From 1936 to 1940, he taught English and history at Glen Burnie High School.

In 1941, he joined the staff of the American Red Cross, and during World War II served in Puerto Rico, Italy and Norway while attached to the armed forces. For his work, he was awarded the Italian Red Cross Bronze Star for humanitarian services rendered during wartime.

After the war, he worked for the State Department as director of the Paraguayan-American Cultural Center in Asuncion, and later in public affairs with the Foreign Service in Bolivia and Argentina.

Mr. Crandall lived in New York City for five years as a staff member of Puerto Rico's economic development commission.

"He was promoting tourism and rum," said his son-in-law, Frank W. Lawson of Arnold.

In 1961, he became the first tourism director when the state Department of Economic Development established the job, and he held it for more than a decade.

An indefatigable promoter of the state, Mr. Crandall initiated the state's first travel advertising program campaign - highlighting its natural beauty and history.

As a strong advocate for historic preservation, he was a member of Historic Annapolis and urged other communities around the state to preserve their architectural and historical legacies.

In a 1963 letter to The Sun, Mr. Crandall decried the arrival of a high-rise office building in Annapolis.

"Some people mistakenly equate the construction of high-rise buildings with economic progress and historic preservation with economic stagnation," he wrote.

"If Annapolis were properly preserved and adequately advertised and promoted, the number of visitors could be doubled or tripled. Many thousands of tourist dollars would flow into the community to circulate to the ultimate advantage of retailers, bankers, construction workers, in fact, everyone," he wrote.

Mr. Crandall was a founder and board member of Discover America, a travel industry group that is now the Travel Association of America.

From 1973 until retiring in 1977, he headed the public affairs office of the state Department of Agriculture.

He was also an active freelance writer whose topics included food and the Civil War. His work was published in Bon Appetit, Motor Boating and Reader's Digest. From 1980 to 1989, he wrote and edited Senior Sentinel for the Anne Arundel County Department of Aging.

His wife of 32 years, the former Nora Gentile, died in 1976.

He was a communicant of St. Mary's Roman Catholic Church in Annapolis.

Surviving are a daughter, Linda Crandall-Rawson of Arnold; three grandchildren; four great-grandchildren; and his companion of 28 years, Nora Phipp Wayson of Annapolis.

Services were Monday.

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