Normal West’s score keeper was confirmed dead from the fatal school bus car crash that occurred on I-74 yesterday evening.
72-year-old Charles Crabtree was a well-known figure at the school. He was known for his dedication not just to the Wildcats but high school sports in the area.
Known affectionately as Charlie by those who worked alongside him over the years, Crabtree was a big piece to an even bigger community.
One of Crabtree’s close friend’s, Dave Olafsson, detailed how nice his friend will be remembered as. “He had that kind of personality that would kind of light up a room and you knew he was there. Every game you’d go to you’d see him sitting down at the scores table.”
Dave Olsaffson of State Farm remembered his friend as a veteran who dedicated time and effort to the State Far Holiday Classic every year.
“He just wanted to make sure that kids had a great opportunity and every chance to succeed,” said Olsaffson.
Crabtree’s influence extended beyond the court. Friends said he would surprise players with Gatorade and candy, keep score, serve as an announcer and volunteer for anything that was needed.
The former Normal West HS Athletic Director, Bobbie Monroe, said Crabtree was all about the students. “The kids absolutely adored him. Absolutely. I’ve seen so many of them commenting and remembering some of the bus trip. Went above and beyond what any other bus driver would do.”
Monroe was previously Crabtree’s boss. He said both Crabtree and Coach Steve Price, who is slowly recovering with several broken bones, are invaluable assets to unit 5.
“He was one that I could always depend on to do the right thing and do right by the kids,” said Monroe. Though he was retired, friends said he never stopped doing what he loved.
According to Monroe, “How appropriate if when God calls us you always hope that it’s going to be doing what we love best in life. In Charlie’s case that’s exactly what happened.”
This is a community that is forging ahead despite their loss. At the varsity team’s insistence, the scheduled basketball game against the Richwoods Knights this evening at 7:30 carried on as planned.
Administrators said there was a moment of silence as more tributes to Charlie in the coming days.
Mr. Crabtree’s daughter is an administrative assistant with unit 5 as well.