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From Home Furnishing Business

Jack Crahan, 92, Dies

Jack (J.B.) Bertsch Crahan, retired chairman and CEO of Flexsteel Inds., (NASDAQ: FLXS) has died. He was 92. 

Services were held Saturday, Nov. 28, at St. Columbkille Church with the Rev. Gabriel Anderson and Rev. Msgr. Francis Friedl officiating. Burial was in Mt. Olivet Cemetery with full military honors accorded by the Dubuque Marine Corps League. 

Born Aug. 24, 1923 in Galesburg, Ill., Jack was raised in Long Lake, Minn. At the age of 14, at the end of the Great Depression, he started his own turkey farm. He started with a few turkeys, which turned into a rafter of more than 100 turkeys. By Thanksgiving, his hard work paid off handsomely. He was a quick study of what worked and what didn't work, which became his model for his life.

He graduated high school at the age of 16 and then enrolled at the University of Minnesota, majoring in aeronautical engineering.

That's when Margaret "Peggy" Furey entered his life, with her bright blue eyes, high-fashion style, and Irish grace. It was love at first sight. They married Sept. 9, 1944.

Jack and Peggy Crahan lived their lives guided by their love of God. In fact, they built their four-generational family firmly ground in their love of God and practice of their Catholic faith.

During their courtship, Jack enlisted in the Naval Air Corps. He was in the top 10 percent of his class as a naval cadet, and selected to be a Marine Fighter pilot in WWII. Inspired by an unparalleled love for his country, Crahan served in WWII as a highly decorated fighter pilot in the Pacific Theater. He was awarded the Victory Medal in 1945 and became the top replacement in the legendary fighter pilot, Joe Foss's 2nd Squadron, the VMF-115 in the 1st Marine Air Wing, known as "Joe's Jokers" for its emblem of the Royal Flush with a "Joker" on the Corsair tail. After the war, he was sent to Peking (now Beijing) to patrol the Great Wall of China in defense of Nationalist China. In 1946, he returned home with the China Service Medal. He received the Distinguished Flying Cross with four Oak Leaf Clusters, having flown in combat in the South Pacific, the Philippines, Okinawa and China.

Crahan was called back to duty during the Korean War. Captain Crahan flew Sikorsky helicopter rescue missions behind enemy lines to recover the wounded and the dead. He returned home to Minneapolis after his tour of duty. 

Crahan joined Flexsteel in 1947. Crahan, along with Sam Santillo, moved the metal division to Dubuque, Iowa, in 1955. In 1965-66, Crahan spearheaded the metal move into recreational vehicles, when Winnebago requested that Flexsteel build frames for them. Crahan came up with the phrase, "It's all furniture, but this is just furniture that goes

down the road." At the height of the RV business, Flexsteel generate $98 million worth of revenue. Flexsteel became the leader of the RV business. Crahan helped take Flexsteel public in 1969, and he was named president and COO of the company in 1985. In 1990, he became chairman of the board and CEO. Crahan retired in 1998.

He was an icon and leader in the American furniture industry and the Iowa business community.

Crahan was civically active and served on a number boards over the years, including Dubuque Bank and Trust, Loras College Board of Regents, United Steelworkers Pension Trust, Dubuque Racing Association, Dubuque Boys Club, and National Association of Furniture Manufacturing.

A member of St. Columbkille parish, Crahan attended daily mass regularly,

especially during lent. He was a founding member of S.M.G.A. (Sunday Morning Golf Association), which started as a group of men looking to enjoy libations on Sunday morning at the Dubuque Golf and Country Club,

without violating Iowa Liquor Board laws. The group played a round of golf with the intent of meeting at the gin table. He was an avid player of gin, a desired partner and feared competitor.

Crahan joined the 990 Club in 1955, and was the longest-standing member of the Dubuque Shooting Society. He also enjoyed hunting with his family and friends as a way to relax. Crahan and Peggy were avid world travelers. They visited six of the seven continents. 

Crahan was preceded in death by his wife Peggy, in 2002; and son, Patrick, in 2014; along with his sister, Mary Jo Murphy; and brother-in-law, John Bonner.

Crahan is survived by his sister, Jeanne Bonner; daughter, Colleen (Larry) McCarthy; son, Kevin (Maureen) Crahan; daughter-in-law, Carla Crahan; and grandchildren, Erin Nagle Atkiss, Ciara and Nora McCarthy, Page (Ken) Rahn, Andrew Crahan, Kaitlin, Caroline, Jack and Seamus Crahan; and great grandchildren, Lincoln, Shepherd, and Riley Atkiss, and Patrick Michael Rahn.

Memorials may be given to St. Columbkille Church and School Fund. 

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