Life of public service
Roseville, Calif.- Dedicating much of life to public service for the City of Roseville, Harry Crabb lives in the town he’s called home for over 85 years. He shares his experience growing up in this tight-knit community.
In 1935, when Harry was just a toddler, his family traveled from Nebraska to Roseville for the then popular reason “to seek your fortune in California.” At this time, Roseville hosted the largest artificial ice making plant in the world. As the country started to recover from the Great Depression, the plant helped the town get back on its feet.
The risk Harry’s father took paid off as he readily found work with the railroad at the Pacific Fruit Express (PFE) ice plant and made a nice living for his family.
A “Royer Street” kid
Like so many of Roseville’s 6,500 residents, the family settled in town. Harry says, “I grew up in Royer Park.” He and his friends, the group of boys Harry calls “the Royer Street kids” lived in the creek, finding favorite pastimes in fishing, frogging and camping. When they weren’t hanging out in the park, they played neighborhood games of baseball and kick-the-can in the streets, until their mothers called them home for the night.
Harry was always a good student – until he reached high school. It was then he discovered sports and girls. “A lot of stuff went on in those hallways,” he says of the old Roseville High School. He was an all-around athlete playing as many sports as possible, and dated a young woman named Jeannette Davis.
Harry married Jeannette in 1953. Just three days later, he answered his draft notice and shipped out to the Army base in Fort Belvoir, Virginia. He served two years, which he describes as the best of his life. He believes every young man would benefit from serving in the military.
Once he returned from service, Harry and Jeannette began their family life and raised their two children. Harry enjoyed taking the time to be a hands-on dad.
His time in public service began when neighbor George Buljan asked Harry to consider becoming involved with the city. The next thing he knew, he was appointed to the Roseville Environmental Impact Committee. From there he went on to serve on the City Planning Commission.
Role of Mayor
Giving back to the city he loved became second nature to Harry and in 1980 he decided to run for city council. He received the most votes, landing him the role of mayor. But Harry knew that serving on the council before becoming mayor would shape someone into a more effective leader.
He worked to change the system so the candidate with the highest number of votes becomes vice mayor for two years and serves as mayor for the remaining two years of their term. It was one of his first accomplishments. Harry’s favorite successes while on city council include building the “new” Roseville hospital (Sutter) and the Roseville Automall.
Today there is a park and a tunnel in Roseville named after Harry commemorating an incredible 18 years in community service, including four terms as mayor.
(Photos courtesy of Christina Richter and Harry Crabb)
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