Catching up from a COVID-19 delay, the Dundalk Optimists Club has selected longtime Dundalk resident, steelworker and coach Bob Crandell, who has done time volunteering all over Dundalk, for their 2019 Humanitarian of the Year Award.
Crandell, 74, has been “involved in making the Dundalk community better over the last 50 years,” Will Feuer, the Optimists Club’s treasurer, said earlier this month. That lead the club, which Crandell has previously served on every board position within, to choose him.
Crandell “turned out the lights” at the steel mill in Sparrows Point, where he worked for 46 years until the mill finally closed in 2012.
“I did just about every job there,” Crandell said. He started at the mill in 1965 as a summer job, and was hired full-time in 1966.
After attending the University of Baltimore, where Bethlehem Steel had paid for his last two years of tuition, the steel company asked him to enter a supervisory program where he would work from department to department, eventually being picked as a supervisor in the primary mills.
He worked his way up to being the property manager at Sparrows Point, sticking through the different owners until the very end.
But steel is only part of Crandell’s legacy in Dundalk. He’s also been involved in almost every organization here.
He was the “original Hawk,” Will Feuer, the Dundalk Optimists Club’s treasurer, said, organizing the popular, and successful, Dundalk Hawks wrestling program.
Crandell, who was a wrestler in high school and college, started the program in 1977 with friends of his, Sonny Todd and Bruce Stevens
To Crandell, wrestling “is like no other sport, then again I’ve played a lot of softball, but wrestling is still my favorite.” He said the sport teaches young people “so much.”
The Hawks started as a “B-Team” in the Maryland Junior Wrestling League, an especially “tough” league to be in in the ‘70s, but before the team could grow, it was already doing well enough two years in to move up to the “A-Team” category.
Crandell stayed with the Hawks until 1992, and at that time, the team already had 26 individual state champions. He took a break, but came back to wrestling for a three-year stint as a coach at Sparrows Point High School, which didn’t have much of a wrestling program in the early ‘90s.
After the steel mill closed, Crandell worked at CCBC Dundalk for four years, teaching just about “anything and everything.”
“I wasn’t one of these highly-educated guys, I was a steelworker,” he said. So, he was able to handpick what he taught.
Outside of coaching and teaching, Crandell has twice been the president of Dundalk Renaissance, held every position at the Dundalk Optimists Club and has worked for 42 years with the Dundalk Heritage Association, serving as the chair for 10 of those years.
He’s also been on the board of directors at the Eastern Baltimore Area Chamber of Commerce, a business member of the Dundalk-Patapsco Neck Historical Society, Friends of Todd’s Inheritance, the Digital Harbor business steering committee and serves as the secretary of the Dundalk High School alumni association.
The Optimists will honor the 2019 and 2020 Citizens and Humanitarians of the Year at a joint ceremony on Nov. 15 at Fiesta’s Catering Hall. 2020 nominations for both are still open and available online or at the North Point Library, Drug City, and the Dundalk Historical Society, and can be submitted until Oct. 15 to email@example.com or to the Dundalk Optimist Club, P.O. Box 4044, Dundalk, MD 21222.