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Frank Crossfield

Frank Crossfield, a Santa Rosa native and longtime state forestry official who was active in Masonic and Shriners groups, died Jan. 26. He was 85.

The cause was congestive heart failure, said his daughter, Marilee Handley of Citrus Heights.

Crossfield began what would be a nearly four-decade-long career with the state Department of Forestry while a student at Santa Rosa High School, working on summer wildfire crews.

An avid outdoorsman, he was drawn to a profession that wouldn't keep him behind a desk, Handley said.

"That was the big thing about forestry," she said.

The one professional interlude was his service in the Navy at the end of World War II. He was a radioman on the minesweeper USS Redstart, responsible for post-war operations in Japanese waters.

After his military service, Crossfield studied at Santa Rosa Junior College and in 1951 earned a degree in forestry from UC Berkeley.

A year earlier, he married Elizabeth Anne Knipschild. The couple had three children.

Rising through the ranks at the forestry agency, Crossfield was posted throughout California. He started in the Sierra foothills of Yuba County and moved south, ending up in San Diego before he returned home in 1969 to oversee operations in Sonoma County.

In one of his early posts, in Mariposa near Yosemite National Park, Crossfield became the youngest employee promoted to the command job of ranger in the agency, his family said.

Busy fire seasons meant long days on the job. One October, his family came to celebrate his birthday at work.

"I remember taking the cake down to the fireline," Handley said.

Crossfield retired in 1982.

An Eagle Scout in his boyhood, Crossfield later joined various Masonic and Shriner clubs, including the Santa Rosa Luther Burbank Lodge No. 57, Santa Rosa Scottish Rite Bodies, Aahems Shrine and the Sonoma County Shrine Club.

In retirement, he and his wife traveled widely around the United States and each year made an annual month-long stay at Eagle Lake, east of Lassen Volcanic National Park.

"He hiked, hunted and fished," Handley said of her father's affinity for the outdoors. "He loved it."

In addition to daughter, Crossfield is survived by sons Bruce Crossfield of Pomeroy, Wash., and Jim Crossfield of Santa Rosa; and four grandchildren.

A Masonic service will be held at 2 p.m. Friday at Daniels Chapel of the Roses in Santa Rosa.

Donations may be made to the Shriners Hospital for Children, 2425 Stockton St., Sacramento 95817.

-- Brett Wilkison

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