NORMAL — Warren S. Crews, 98, of Normal, went to be with the Lord on Tuesday (April 11, 2017) at his home.
Warren was born Dec. 6, 1918, in Hallidayboro, the son of Henry and Maggie Manus Crews. He married Roberta H. Mechling on April 24, 1947, in St. Louis. She preceded him in death on July 16, 1998.
Surviving are their children, Susan (Ron) Pridgeon, Bloomington; Jim (Kim) Crews, Carmel, Ind.; Tom Crews, Louisville, Ky.; Amy (Lance) Conklin, Normal; six grandchildren, Rachael Pridgeon, Nashville, Tenn.; Sam Pridgeon, Sacramento, Calif.; Abby Crews, Brooklyn, N.Y.; Todd (Nicole) Crews, Brooklyn, N.Y.; Amanda Conklin, McLean Conklin and MacCallan Conklin, all of Normal; two great-grandchildren, Canaan and Zoe Crews; a brother, Jerry (Janice) Crews, Marion; and a sister, Nancy (Dan) Petry, Ellisville, Mo.
He was preceded in death by his parents and siblings, Lester, Robert, Frank, Jean, Charles, Don and Margaret.
Warren was an all-state quarterback at Elkville High School in southern Illinois. He played college football at Southeast Missouri State University as a four-year starter. After graduation, he was in the pre-flight Navy Air Corps and was recruited by the Iowa Seahawks to play with other college and professional football players.
He began his coaching career at Lovington High School, where he met Roberta. Warren coached football, baseball, basketball and track. His football teams won four straight years of their conference and had a 23-game winning streak before he moved to Illinois State Normal University in 1951.
He began as a graduate assistant, coaching football, basketball and baseball. Warren was the junior varsity basketball coach for 11 seasons, compiling a 119-25 record. The 1959 team made the NAIA College Division final four. He was also an assistant for baseball, eight seasons; and assistant for football, 11 seasons. While coaching, he received his master’s degree from University of Illinois.
Between 1962 and 1975, he was an assistant basketball coach alongside James Collie, Will Robinson and Gene Smithson. He coached the 1968 team, which was one of the best, and coached Doug Collins from 1969 to 1973. Warren also designed ISU’s famous candy-striped basketball shorts.
As he coached, he was able to watch all the games possible of son, Jim, playing at University High School, and Tom, at Normal Community. While Jim went on to play basketball at Indiana University, 1972-1976, Warren continued to coach until 1975, teach until 1985 and was assistant athletic director from 1975 to 1982.
As ISU was the host to the IHSA all-class football state championship, he organized the event for several years. During the summer, he managed the Municipal Baseball League in the Twin Cities. In 1983, he was inducted into the Illinois State University Athletic Hall of Fame as a coach. In 2001, he was inducted with the 1967-68 basketball team.
He was a member of First United Methodist Church, Normal, where he sang in the choir and played the piano for his Yokefellow’s Sunday school class for several years. He also enjoyed playing bridge and golf, and watching the St. Louis Cardinals.
Most of all, he loved talking about the game with his two basketball coach sons and watching every game possible of his grandchildren.
A celebration of life service will be at noon Tuesday at East Lawn Funeral Home, Bloomington. A committal service will follow at the mausoleum chapel at East Lawn Memorial Gardens. An informal gathering with hors 'oeuvres will follow the services, approximately 1:45 p.m., at the funeral home for those who would like to attend.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to First United Methodist Church, Normal, or Illinois State University Athletics.
Condolences may be shared with the family at eastlawn-bloomington.com.