LITTLE ROCK A majority of football stadiums throughout the state are named after the school's mascot or the school itself, so when a stadium is named in honor of a person, it is a special distinction.
That is certainly the case with Jacksonville's Jan Crow Stadium. Whenever you bring up the name of Jan Crow to anyone who knew him, a smile immediately appears on their face, especially those who were fortunate enough to play football during the time he was taking care of the team as its team doctor.
"He put in a lot of time," said Larry Wilson, who played football for Jacksonville and now is president and CEO of First Arkansas Bank and Trust. "He was a very caring individual, he sewed me up on several occasions. He wasn't the kind of guy that would put a Band-Aid on a problem and send you back in. He made sure you were OK."
Crow volunteered his time to the athletic program for 10 years and the Jacksonville community for even longer. His son, Dr. Steve Crow, remembers his father coming home from a house call or the office with a sack full of vegetables because that was all some in the area could afford to pay.
His father gladly accepted the payment for his services, because "he wanted to see others do well, and it was the right thing to do," Steve Crow said. He would even receive calls from people north of Jacksonville that, knowing his love of quail hunting, would ask him to come remove the quail from their fields, Crow said.
It was on Friday nights in the fall, however, when Crow really enjoyed himself. He was able to do what he loved and see his sons on the football field.
In 1968, Crow was killed in an airplane crash near Lake Village, and the loss hit the community of Jacksonville hard. When the new school was built the following year, Jan Crow's name was immediately attached to the football field.
When the field was opened in 1970, the first game played was a junior varsity game involving Crow's son Steve.
"The coach made sure that [the junior varsity team] was the first to play," Steve Crow said. "I was very proud, but it is hard to describe. It was different that he wasn't there watching."
To Steve Crow and Larry Wilson, it seemed anyone who came in contact with Jan Crow was better for it in the long run. Steve Crow believes that the school naming the field after his father had little to do with his involvement with the athletic department. Although his father and the coaching staff were close, Steve Crow believes it was the impact his father had on the community as a whole that led to the honor.
In his 43 years, Crow tended to all the people between Jacksonville and Searcy that couldnot make it to the hospital or could not afford a trip to the infirmary.
"He was a Marcus Welby type of doctor," Steve Crow said. "He would never turn a patient away."
Even years later, the impact that Crow had on the area was apparent to his son. When his practice was in the Beebe corridor, Steve Crow would receive visitors on a daily basis who would tell him that they or their children were delivered by Jan Crow.
"It amazed me how many people were affected by him," Steve Crow said.
Any time anyone needed Jan Crow, he was there for them, and on Friday nights he was there for the Red Devils. Today, a newly added scoreboard reminds everyone of the legacy left behind by Jan Crow by proudly displaying his name high above for all to see.
"He was part of that era where all professionals gave to the community," Steve Crow said. "There was a sense of camaraderie."
Jan Crow did not think he was special for what he was doing back then, he did it because he loved it. And in return, he received the love and admiration of an entire community.
- emoore @arkansasonline.com
Three Rivers, Pages 59 on 06/26/2008