David Freeman Crispin, 71, of Pilesgrove, who served in the U.S. Air Force Honor Guard and was part of President John F. Kennedy's funeral procession, died at home Tuesday, April 22, of brain cancer.
Born May 4, 1942, Mr. Crispin grew up on a farm in South Jersey and attended Woodstown High School. At a canteen dance, he met Bonnie Brown, to whom he was married nearly 50 years, until her death in 2012.
After graduating from high school in 1960, he joined the Air Force, motivated by a longstanding interest in serving his country, his daughter, Sherry Munyan, said.
Mr. Crispin started in the military police as a K-9 officer and was sent to Spang-dahlem Air Force Base in Germany. His high school sweetheart followed on her first airplane flight. The couple married in Germany.
Mr. Crispin returned to the United States to live in Washington when he became part of the Air Force Honor Guard. In November 1963, he was assigned to the president's funeral.
"It's a very special honor," Munyan said. "He was extremely proud of it."
After Mr. Crispin returned to civilian life, he tried working for a telephone company - "He decided that wasn't something he wanted to do, with climbing poles . . . he wasn't too keen on heights" - before becoming an instruments and electronics mechanic in a chemical plant in Bridgeport.
Munyan recalled her father's strong work ethic, saying he worked at the plant during the day and then attended classes at Salem Community College at night.
"Whatever he had to do to put food on the table, he would do," she said. "He was the kind of guy who worked hard, and he didn't stop until the job was done right."
He retired in 1997 after 30 years.
Seeking adventure, Mr. Crispin loved to travel, pulling a camper behind the car as he drove the family to Canada, the Florida Keys, Wisconsin.
A friend owned a hot-air balloon, and Mr. Crispin got himself onto the crew, Munyan said, laughing about how he would join in flights all across South Jersey.
"He always thought that the balloons were so beautiful and graceful," she said.
Mr. Crispin was extremely patriotic, his daughter said, describing how he would sometimes interrupt a drive:
"If he ever saw a flag on the ground, anywhere driving along, he would stop and pick it up," she said.
"He would absolutely pull over on the side of the road and pick these flags up and go to the front door and say, 'Excuse me, do you know that the flag is on the ground?' " she said.
On a trip to Nova Scotia, the family encountered a bagpiper in full garb, including kilt, Munyan said. The family was so enchanted, Mr. Crispin went looking for bagpipers when he took a trip to Scotland years later, Munyan said. (To his disappointment, he didn't find a single one.)
The family has arranged for a bagpiper to attend Mr. Crispin's funeral, she said.
In addition to his daughter, Mr. Crispin is survived by a son, Sean Crispin; a brother, Barry; and a granddaughter.
Services begin at 10 a.m. Tuesday, April 29, at Asbury United Methodist Church, 149 S. Main St., Woodstown, N.J. A military burial will follow at Eglington Cemetery in Clarksboro.