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Five Crevier brothers made all-state teams
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Five Crevier brothers made all-state teams

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Bert Crevier has no difficulty remembering the dates when his mother and father passed away.

Everything else about the 40-year marriage of Ray Crevier and the former Patricia Ricker was more than a little magical.

There simply had to be a little more poetry to the way it all came to an end.

"They died on each other's birthdays,'' said Bert, one of six sons and six daughters in a family that thrived on the deep religious faith and almost unparalleled work ethic instilled by two exceptional parents. "It was almost like they were a gift to each other.''

Ray Crevier, a fighter pilot in World War II, didn't make it back to Jefferson, S.D., until July of 1947, nearly two years after the war.

A few days later, he met Patricia, a Briar Cliff College junior from Marcus, Iowa, and took her for a plane ride.

Two weeks after that, they were married.

"He knew right away that she was the one,'' said Bert, a test pilot in Baltimore, Md., and one of four brothers who followed in dad's footsteps, learning how to fly.

Marty Crevier, the eldest child, was already an athletic 6-1, 200-pound youngster when he died tragically at the age of 12.

Somehow, it was as if his 11 younger siblings, some of them not yet born, made sure to treasure their lives in his honor.

Prime cast in point: The five sons who reached adulthood all became South Dakota all-state high school football players, emulating another of their father's passions.

Maurice and Marc, the two eldest after Marty, will be inducted this weekend into the Ashland (Ohio) University Hall of Fame, honoring their football careers for a tradition-rich NCAA Division II program.

Graduates of Jefferson High School in 1968 and 1969, respectively, both were four-time all-staters for the Blackhawks' eight-man program, which enjoyed a 39-game winning streak spanning all but its first game under Matt Mottice, the coach for five seasons.

Younger brothers Ray Jr. (Class of 1972), Bert (1978) and Bruce (1983) also garnered all-state laurels and continued on to college football -- Ray Jr., a defensive back, at Navy; Bert, a linebacker, at Dakota State; and Bruce, a punter and quarterback, at Bethel in St. Paul, Minn.

Bruce, though, has become more famous for the many world records he's established spinning basketballs and traveling the globe with his wife, Diane, and their 12 children, performing a memorable act that has them on the road upwards of 250 days a year.

And, he was simply following in the footsteps of an older sister, Tanya, who was first to build a barnstorming act around spinning and dribbling basketballs by the dozens.

"That was our claim to fame, Maurice and I, we brought that home from Ashland,'' said Marc Crevier, one of seven Creviers, Bruce and Tanya included, who make their home in Elkton, S.D., 20 miles south of Brookings.

Bill Musselman, the young Ashland basketball coach when Maurice and Marc were enjoying their All-America football careers at the school, spiced up a few of his halftime shows with basketball showman "Crazy George Schauer.'' And, before long, two-sport standout Jay Hoover had picked up enough to teach his roommate, Maurice Crevier, how to spin a basketball.

"Marc came the next year and we wound up teaching Tanya how to do that,'' said Maurice.

Show business aside, Ashland's Crevier brothers, Maurice at linebacker and Marc in the offensive line, inspired their younger brothers to fulfill the family tradition as football all-staters.

According to a 1994 story in the Sioux Falls Argus-Leader, Bruce felt the burden of his older brothers' success, pushing himself to maintain the tradition.

"I read a book by Bill Glass entitled, ‘Expect To Win,' ‘' said Bruce. "It said if you have a goal, write it down and stick it on a mirror so every morning it's staring you in the face. In the seventh grade, I put up a note that read ‘all-state football.' ‘'

And, the youngest brother's drive to excel was only just getting started when his all-state football accolades kept the family's football legacy perfect.

For a family with so many collective accomplishments, maybe the parents could only appreciate it all from a celestial vantage point.

Patricia Crevier was only 62 when she died of cancer on April 28, 1988, her husband's 66th birthday.

Ray was 72 when cancer also ended his life, passing away on Dec. 19, 1994, the day the love of his life would have turned 68.

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