Dahlia Legacy Project

By the Federation of Northwest Dahlia Growers

Dahlia Legacy Profile

Jack & Char Crawford

By Roger Walker

If anyone can describe a more perfect couple than Jack and Char Crawford let them step forward now. I see nobody moved; I didn’t think there would be any takers.

Jack and Char were both Midwest kids who met later in life. As a seventeen-year-old farm kid, Jack rode a train from Winfield, Kansas to San Diego near the end of World War II to Navy boot camp. While he saw limited war action, he decided the Navy was a great opportunity. Later in life, when Jack was mayor of Kenmore, Washington he and the deputy mayor would joke that when they joined the service, the other side got scared and surrendered.

Char is originally from Minneapolis and attended Augsburg College. She later worked as a librarian and was active in the Bothell United Methodist Church. Char is the proud author of four Christian books, mostly focusing on teenagers and young homemakers. She also wrote a column for many years for Youth for Christ Magazine. After Char and Jack had both left unhappy marriages, they luckily met and formed a perfect couple: two delightful, happy people who made each other laugh for the next 40 years. Jack always had a smile on his face and a good word for everyone. Jack and Char came into their marriage in 1969 with eight children (Jack 5, Char 3), so you can imagine how bustling that Kenmore household must have been.

While Jack was a career Navy man, he spent two stints away from the service as he completed his education. He first used the GI Bill to earn his bachelor’s degree; later he took time away from the service to complete divinity school. Jack’s final years in the service were spent as a Navy chaplain.

How the Crawfords found time for all their activities is a mystery to everyone. In addition to their dahlia addiction, there were the eight children to raise, followed by a slew of grandchildren – and now great grandchildren. After his Navy retirement, Jack continued as a marriage counselor, taught college courses, and was very involved as Kenmore became incorporated in 1998; he served as the city’s first mayor. In fact, at the first-ever Kenmore city council meeting, presided over by mayor Jack Crawford, the dahlia was named the official flower of the city of Kenmore.

And then there were the Model A Fords. Jack and Char were active in both local and national Model A clubs, and Jack served as president of the national organization, which comprised 32,000 members at the time. Char served as chair of the national club’s Era Fashion Committee and served as chief judge for era fashions at the 2000 Model A national convention. Char somehow also found time to be active in her local Hilltoppers Garden Club and served for a time as president.


Jack and Char joined the dahlia world as thousands of others have: “helpful” neighbors gifted them some tubers. In the Crawford’s case, it was neighbors Bob and Ruth Surber, who were active members of Puget Sound Dahlia Association (PSDA) and lived just four houses away. Since Jack and Char were soon growing a bunch of dahlias, the Surbers took one of their blooms to a show and returned with a blue ribbon. That was it. They were hooked.

Before long the Crawfords were growing 500 dahlias in well-crafted raised beds at their Kenmore home. They became prolific exhibitors; Char was especially active among the floral arrangers. They also progressed through the judging ranks, becoming senior judges. Since both were accomplished judges in the Model A universe, the transition to top dahlia judges came naturally. Char became active in PSDA activities, serving several terms as a trustee. Jack was famous as the GOAT (greatest of all time) auctioneer at PSDA tuber and plant sales. Who can forget that soulful look he gave you as he said, “It’s only one more dollar.”

Most likely at the urging of Bob and Ruth Surber, it didn’t take long for the Crawfords to try their hand at dahlia hybridization. And it wasn’t long before they were introducing “Jax” varieties: Jax Tinker, Jax Char Joy, and Jax Buttercream were soon followed by Jax Char. In fact, at the 2022 PSDA plant auction, a plant of Jax Tinker sold for over $20, twenty-five years after its introduction.


Jack and Char’s legacy is that of a loving couple who were perfect for each other. They successfully raised eight children, were involved in their church, city government, automobile organizations, and dahlias. How did they find the time?

Jack passed away unexpectedly in 2008 and Char holds down the fort in the home they purchased when they were first married. If you run across information and historical pictures about the city of Kenmore History Path Project, you’ll see Char Crawford at a planning committee meeting. And if you walk the history path, you’ll come across a bronze plaque indicating the path is dedicated to Jack Crawford, Kenmore’s first mayor and Kenmore Heritage Society president.

Hall of Fame – Nomination


CultivarSizeFormColorColor DescriptionOrigCntyYear

Photo Gallery


Nothing yet!
Scroll to Top