Around noon yesterday, CSUN student Shannan Marie Dunlap set up a large, blown-up laminated photograph by the Matador Bookstore double-door entrance.
On the photo: a young Blake Anthony Crawford, wearing a black long-sleeve shirt with a smile on his face, something others always as an attribute of his.
He would have been 21 years old Feb. 27.
Above and below Crawford’s photo were about two-dozen burgundy roses. A few feet away was a table with 20 balloons and one green one, representing his favorite color. On the table laid a light brown notebook with personal notes written mostly to Crawford, which will be delivered to his family.
One read: “Hey You, Happy B-day boy! Gosh I miss you?”
Another read: “Blake, I never got the chance to meet you, but I feel like I know you through your friends and the love they have for you.”
For some of Crawford’s friends, his life will always be remembered.
A memorial was held in remembrance of Crawford Feb. 27, a memorial that highlighted the slain CSUN student’s life and the reminder that life can end anytime.
Crawford was shot in the head Jan. 15, was taken to a hospital and died the following day, according officials at the Northridge Hospital. Five suspects must go to a preliminary hearing for the murder of Crawford March 30.
Dunlap could not have stayed home Feb. 27. The junior apparel design major began planning for the event the moment she heard about his death.
“It’s nice just because he’s getting recognition,” Dunlap said. “I couldn’t have stayed home.”
At the age of eight, Blake Crawford began to develop a love for golf, teaching himself and received full support from his parents to pursue the sport, said his father Alonzo Crawford, 46, in an earlier interview.
An avid player of the sport, Blake played every spare moment he had, he said.
Crawford grew up in Stockton, California, and went to Lincoln High School, where he was the team captain of his golf team in high school, Alonzo Crawford said.
He described his son Blake as a “big guy” at about the height of about 6’3 and 230 pounds.
He came to CSUN in Fall 2003 as a management major and “fell in love with the school,” Alonzo Crawford said.
As any death, Blake’s put importance on smaller things in life, he said.
“On that lonely plane ride to the hospital ? things that I didn’t remember became crystal clear in that hour’s ride,” his father said.. “Things that weren’t important became important. It was a real good feeling.”
He said Blake’s death has brought their family together.
Crawford has helped people after his death as some of his organs were donated to others, his father said.
“He pretty much turned me, freshman year, from a boy to a man,” said Kalil Rahal, sophomore business international management major, and a best friend of Blake.
People who did not know Crawford also stopped by to pay their respect.
“I think it’s awesome,” said Andrew Leyva, a sign language interpreter with the National Center on Deafness, speaking of the memorial. “This has been the first time, other than an instructor, that I have seen this? .I do like this communal sense.”
Henock Gebrekidan, junior engineering major, knew Crawford for about two-and-a-half years, and remembers Crawford as a smart, friendly and open person.
“His overall demeanor” was memorable, Gebrekidan said.
“He was a great teacher,” he said. “He knew how to express himself the way that he wanted to.”
Some of Crawford’s friends and family said he lived his life to the fullest.
That full life included a love for children and everyday people.
The memorial was a rarity that does not usually happen on campus, said Darlene Warren-Shapiro, director of United Campus Ministry, who knew Blake.
“I would like (people) to remember him as a CSUN student,” Warren-Shapiro said. “While you’re at CSUN, we’re a family.”
Aisling Guiney, junior communication studies major, met Crawford about three years ago. She said she remembers Blake for his smile and friendliness.
“You couldn’t be in a bad mood around Blake,” Guiney said. “He wouldn’t let you.”
Grief counseling was also available for students. Friends of Blake stayed in front of the Matador Bookstore until about 3 p.m.
Afterward, another memorial was planned to be held at 5:30 p.m. at the fraternity house of Phi Delta Theta, which Blake Crawford was a member of.
“He had the best smile in the world,” said Lauren Mickool, junior political science major, adding that Crawford was a generous.
He was a gentle giant, said Bridget Crawford, Alonzo Crawford’s wife, in an earlier interview. “Because I never saw him in any other state but the calming, soothing and happy frame of mind – so gentle.”
“I’d like for them to know, for those that did not know him, you missed out on a great friend,” she said. “To know him was to love him.”
Samuel Richard can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.