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A Century of Tradition

John Crawford


Our 38th President was born in Glasgow, and after studying engineering at Paisley Technical College and the Royal Technical College in Glasgow, John Crawford joined the Coats organisation in 1949. A short time afterwards John went to Portugal as engineer of the Coats mill in Oporto, and in 1958 was transferred to Argentina where he lived until 1963. In that year John was moved to Santiago, to cover the mills in Chile, Uruguay and Peru, as well as Argentina. He arrived in Brazil in 1965. as Linhas (now Coats Corrente) Group Engineer.

Having previously been a member of the St Andrew Societies of River Plate and Santiago, John became a member of the São Paulo Society on his first day in Brazil. He was elected to the Committee in 1966, was Vice-President in 1967, and became President the following year, serving ex-oficio in 1969.

During his year as President, HM The Queen and Prince Philip visited São Paulo. John, on being introduced, provoked the Prince's memorable remark that we Scots, no doubt, all eagerly eat haggis at our functions in Sao Paulo, without ever having come across the beast before going overseas.

John, a keen musician, started to play the piano for the Banquet singsongs in 1965 and has been going strong at Banquets, ceilidhs, and Burns Nights ever since. He was also a founder member of the "Brás Baun” and assisted in the compilation of-the first Piratininga Sang Sheet. Indeed, few calls for John's musical expertise, be they from the St Andrew Society or from any other organisation in the Community, go unheeded. He remembers well the 1975 Ceilidh, because, to his consternation, one week before the event, he broke his wrist. Undeterred, he played the piano, probably the only broken-wristed piano player at a St Andrews event!

John remembers at one banquet going with his guest into a side room at SPAC for a singsong. His driver, unable to locate them, went home. So, John`s guest set off home alone, but, in the direction of the coast and once at the toll, he found he had no money. The story goes that he only arrived home at 6am and the question is – did his wife believe him? Well, the banquets have a store of stories, many unprintable.

As well as his service to the St Andrew Society, John served on the Board of St Paul `s School from 1971 to 1978, assisting with the planning for the construction of the auditorium, restaurant, and gymnasium.

His is married to an Argentine lass, Marta, who is an accomplished Scottish country dancer, as is their elder daughter Leslie, who was a member of the Scottish team which gave a display of Scottish Dancing at the International Folk-Dance Festival held in São Paulo a few years ago. Corina works for an advertising company in São Paulo and has attended some events recently.

An enthusiastic golfer and winner of the Quaich in 1975, John Is often to be found on the course at Clube do Campo, when he and Marta are not at their “chacara" at Mariporã.

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