Remembering the legacy of the 'Mandan Greeter'

Published: Nov. 24, 2019 at 7:54 PM CST
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A simple smile and wave can make your day. Crawford Peltier knew that all too well. He was also known as the Mandan Greeter. Smiling and waving from a bench to people driving or walking by Mandan High School. The city commission just approved a plaque that's going to be placed on his bench in the spring, after his passing.

Meet the Mandan Greeter. He would wave a flag and say, "yee-haw" to people passing by.

But on Nov. 6, Crawford Peltier passed away, with his sister Suzie Hill by his side.

After suffering a traumatic brain injury at the age of 20, he became disabled. This bench became Crawford's hang out spot. ​

"Sometimes the things that we see when we get back from a call are negative or something like that, and you see Crawford and all you would have to do is honk your horn and he would put a smile on your face," said Pat Martin, Mandan Fire Department.

The Mandan Fire Department placed these flags on his bench to remember his legacy of spreading cheer.

"Sometimes I think we get caught up in life and our divisions and our beliefs and all that stuff, but I think Crawford was a good reminder that you could put that stuff aside and just be simple," said Martin.

Hill says despite his crippling health, he never complained and never took life for granted. This spring, there will be a plaque on the bench, and even though Crawford might not be there to wave his flag, his spirit will remain.

Peltier's celebration of life/funeral will be held on Dec. 2, 2019 at St. Ann's Catholic Church in Belcourt, ND at 10:00 a.m.

The visitation will be at 9:00 a.m. with a burial after service at St. Ann's Cemetery.

Words from his sister, Suzie Hill:

"Crawford Peltier was originally from the Turtle Mountains in Belcourt, ND. He was a Chippewa and could speak our native Mitchif language. He was 56 years young when he gained his angel wings. They say “only the good die young”. "After healing from his brain injury, he was gifted with a special gift, to make people happy and not take life for granted. He wasn’t rich, he was just a simple man with a big heart, and his smile could light up the world! He lived in an apartment in Mandan, with some assistance with daily living skills. Loretta (Resident Trainer/Caregiver) worked with him for 18 years, and she was so caring. Crawford really appreciated her and he liked her. When he got familiar with his surroundings he begin walking down and sitting on a bench by Mandan High School, they saw that it was dangerous for him to cross the street. So, they purchased a new bench and placed it across from the High School, he would be there every day that he could, even in the Winter, he would dress up warm and would be out there for a few hours. People would stop and give him Hot Chocolate or Coffee in the Winter, and in the Summer, they would give him water or his favorite “Cherry Coke”. He always had a candy jar, or a pocket full of Peppermint Candy, and would offer it to everyone.. He loved singing, he would start singing a song just out of the blue. "I know I will have some tough days, but as each day goes on God and my guardian angels will watch over me and bring comfort and strength to get through another day without him and all our loved ones who greeted him in heaven. I know he’s there, because on the night he left us, he sent me a sign, a falling star. Since then, I’ve seen 2 more! He definitely will be missed~but never forgotten. He leaves behind~his son Derek (Dani) Belgarde, grandson Carter Jon. Sisters: Geri (Carris) LaRocque, Patsy (David) Raaum, Jolean (Ron) Morin, Suzie (Jim) Hill. Brothers: Ray Grandbois (Gayle) and Perry Peltier (Karen). Several nieces, nephews ,relatives and friends, and a special little puppy, Laydee."