Back in high school in St. Louis, Missouri, Jim Crawford was a ham radio operator. Then he found out about computers, taught himself to program, and has never looked back. He majored in electrical engineering at Princeton, and took as many computer science courses as he could squeeze in.
He also took humanities courses, played varsity soccer, lettered in sprint football―and became a photographer. He had two exhibits hung in Chancellor Green, each about 50 large prints: a black-and-white exhibit in 1966 and a color exhibit in 1967.
“Princeton simply opened the world to me,” he says. He volunteers for Annual Giving because, “Princeton was given to us by alumni who came before us, and it is not just a responsibility but an honor to give back whatever we can.”
After graduation, Crawford spent a year studying economics (and taking photos) at Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar. The Vietnam War intervened, and he joined the US Navy, serving three years as computer programmer at the Bureau of Naval Personnel in Washington, DC. “It is one of my dreams to go back to Oxford and finish,” he says, “but now I’d rather study art than economics.”
Crawford’s professional career has been in private equity and venture capital―“always with a special interest in technology.” He is now managing director of TRIAD Capital Management LLC in Lake Forest, Illinois, a private equity firm that focuses on companies that serve the federal government.
A former chair of the Annual Giving Committee, and special gifts chair for his class in the last four major reunions, he received the Harold H. Helm Award recognizing “exemplary and sustained service to Annual Giving” at Alumni Day 2009. He also served on the executive committee of the recent Aspire campaign. Crawford is a member, and past chair, of the advisory council of the Keller Center.
And his commitments go beyond campus. He is a trustee, former chair, and serves on the foundation board for the Children’s Home + Aid Society of Illinois, a statewide provider of children’s and family services, and on the board of IES International, which administers study abroad programs.
He is married to Alicia Lydon Crawford, an Episcopal priest; they live in Lake Forest, Illinois. He is proud to have four Princetonians in the family: his late father, James Crawford Jr. ’44; his daughter, Lacy Crawford David ’96; his son, James Crawford IV ’03; and an uncle, Louis Crawford ’48.
A few years back, Alicia, Lacy, and young James gave husband and father an imaginative Christmas gift: a terraced plaza with seating just off McCosh Walk, now named the James E. Crawford ’68 Terrace. They also arranged for a beech tree to be planted near Blair Hall, to replace one that had flourished at the site in the ’60s and is remembered fondly by Jim and Alicia from their courting days.