Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Victim a gentle, giving man: friend

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GERALD Crayford was a meek, mild-mannered man who hated violence.

That's why his former boss David Rousseau said people who worked with him for years at Logan Avenue's Flame and Comfort are stunned by the news of his death.

"He was just a kind, easy-going guy," said Rousseau, Crayford's former employer who is related to Crayford's wife.

"He's the type of person, if you hit him, he would never raise a fist. Violence was not in his nature," Rousseau said.

Rousseau said Crayford worked at Flame and Comfort as a fireplace systems adviser for years before he moved to Canmore, Alta., and then again when he returned to Winnipeg.

The lean, bearded man helped raise three stepchildren with his longtime wife. Those children are now adults who mourn his death.

"He brought up those kids," said Rousseau.

Rousseau said he was appalled to hear about the legal track record of the youth accused of killing the man known as "Gerry" to friends.

"There are a lot of people who are completely devastated and lost faith in the system," he said.

"We live in a society where these animals are preying on us, and we don't have a judicial system to protect us."

Police announced Tuesday that Crayford's organs had been donated after his death -- something that came as no surprise to Rousseau.

"He made sure everyone else was taken care of before he ever got any," he said. "He was a guy who we've known for years, worked all his life, didn't even know what a holiday was."

He also said Crayford enjoyed working at the pizza business.

"He liked what he did, he liked going out and meeting people," he said.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition May 18, 2011 A6

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