ARTHUR Crow, who spent 28 years as vicar of the mining community of Flockton, West Yorkshire, had himself worked in a pit for three years as a war-time Bevin Boy. He had wanted to become a priest from his mid-teens.
Mr Crow, who has died aged 88, was born in Framwellgate Moor, Durham, the only child of Mildred and Henry (universally known as Harry) who was a draper and tailor in the city.
He went to Framwellgate Moor and Durham Johnston schools, and although his parents were not Church people, his father regularly took him to the services at Durham Cathedral until he was old enough to join the choir and become a server at his local church.
He felt that his life’s work would be as a churchman.
When war broke out, he was put into the ranks of the Bevin Boys and sent to work at Sacriston Colliery in County Durham.
It was an experience that was to have a profound influence on his later ministry in the Yorkshire coalfields.
After the war, he took a degree and diploma in theology at St Chad’s College, Durham, where he won colours for cricket, football and hockey. In July 1952, he married Lucy Bedford whom he had met in the summer of 1949 at a tennis match at Wynyard Hall, Billingham. He was still a student, and she was training to be a teacher.
She was from the West Riding, and the year after their wedding Mr Crow was ordained a priest by the Bishop of Wakefield.
In 1957, after curacies at Thornhill and Holmfirth, he became Vicar of Shelley, moving to Flockton in 1963, where he remained until his retirement in 1991.
Although considered a strong candidate for higher office in the Church, he felt his calling was to remain as a parish priest, his sleeves rolled up to work at the “coal face” – as he put it – dealing with the everyday needs of his parishioners and contributing to village life as a governor of the school, treasurer of the youth club, organiser of appeals and member of countless village committees.
Alongside his parish duties, he served for many years with distinction as chaplain of the then detention centre at New Hall.
His approach to all he took on was serious minded, but this was a man who enjoyed comedy; he liked being made to laugh, and derived great pleasure from making others smile.
On their retirement in 1991, Mr and Mrs Crow moved to Copmanthorpe, York, soon becoming heavily involved in all aspects of the life of St Giles’s Church. In many ways, the 23 years of his retirement formed an appendix to his ministry.
Foremost among his interests was classical music, and he amassed a vast collection of vinyl records.
Gardening at Flockton, with a large vicarage garden to be kept under control, had been a necessity, but in later years he did it for pleasure. He read widely, did crosswords puzzles and quizzes of all kinds, and maintained his interest in sport, particularly cricket, taking particular pleasure during his last illness in Yorkshire County Cricket Club’s strong performances this season.
Mr Crow is survived by his wife, their sons Michael, Andrew, Peter and Jeremy, three grandsons and a granddaughter.