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Larry Crane had a life-long passion for flying

July 22, 1997

By BRENDAN KIRBY

Staff Writer

BOONSBORO - Even as a child, Richard Lawrence "Larry" Crane, wanted to fly, his sister said Tuesday.

"He would describe these real vivid dreams. He would spread out his arms and fly without a plane," his sister, Sally Sayers, said.

On Monday evening, Crane, 46, died when the single-engine biplane he had built from a kit crashed in a cornfield near his 19223 Manor Church Road home.

The plane crashed shortly after Crane took off from a private airstrip on his property.

Friends and family came from various parts of the United States on Tuesday to remember a man that his wife, Laurie, called "the best, fun, devoted family man."

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"He was so fun and giving...He would always give a whole lot more than he would think he would ever need from someone else," she said.

Sayers, of Boonsboro, said she took some comfort from the fact her brother died doing what he loved.

"That's the only consolation. He was happy when he was flying," he said.

Sayers said her brother took flying lessons about 20 years ago in order to turn his dream into reality.

Over seven years, he painstakingly built the plane from a kit, squeezing out time when he was not running Mountainside Gardens nursery on South Main Street in Boonsboro, she said.

Laurie Crane said her husband took the plane on an inaugural flight in October 1995, after working on it in a greenhouse that doubled as a hangar. She said he had brushed up on his pilot skills in recent years and obtained a license to fly helicopters.

"If you can fly a helicopter, you can fly anything," she said.

Crane's friend, Phil Statton, of Hagerstown, said he watched him build the plane piece by piece, leaving no detail unattended.

"He was very good with his hands. He could build anything...He spent hours redoing things. He was a perfectionist," he said.

Sayers said her brother liked to show off the plane.

"He would come around and circle your house," she said.

Before buying the nursery, Crane owned the Warrenfeltz hardware store in Boonsboro for about seven years, Sayers said.

After graduating from St. Maria Goretti High School in 1969, Crane studied for the priesthood at a seminary in Iowa, Sayers said. She described him as a spiritual man.

After about 1 1/2 years, however, Crane decided against becoming a priest, Sayers said. He attended the University of Maryland for a time, but returned home to raise cattle.

Sayers said Crane fell in love with the rural lifestyle of Washington County from the time the family moved from Chevy Chase, Md., when she and her brother were teenagers.

"He was always drawn back here," she said.

In addition to his wife, Crane is survived by two daughters and a son.

Sayers said she was still dealing with shock a day after the crash.

"This was the person I was closest to from birth. He was the glue of family - the one everyone looked to," she said.

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