John Benjamin Crist

John Benjamin “Doc” Crist, 77, of Morgantown, WV, passed away on Feb. 1, 2018, at Ruby Memorial Hospital due to complications of heart surgery.


John was born on Jan. 16, 1941, in Washington, DC, to Jacob William Crist and Dorothy Lucille Yates Crist. He grew up in Arlington, VA, and graduated from Washington-Lee High School in 1958. He briefly attended Manchester College in Manchester, IN. In 1964 he enrolled at Virginia Tech where he earned his B.S. in Forestry in 1967 and a Ph.D. in Wood Science in 1972.


His professional career had two phases. He spent 20 years with the USDA Forest Service where he began as a research scientist stationed in Duluth, MN, and Rhine­lander, WI. He moved to Morgantown, WV, in an administrative role, becoming National Director of the Timber Bridge Initiative. In 1990, he was honored with the Chief’s Award for Technology Transfer Excellence. He retired from the Forest Ser­vice in 1991.  He spent the next 20 years with Krenn Bridge Company as Mid-Atlantic Representa­tive where he sold vehicular and pedestrian bridges made of timber.  Additionally, John was an adjunct associate professor at both the University of Min­nesota and Virginia Tech.


While at Manchester College, he met and later married his first wife Irene Ruth Miller of Weyers Cave, VA. Together they had three children. In 1983, he married Susan Colleen Kelly of Morgantown, WV.


John was preceded in death by his parents. He is survived by his wife of 34 years, Sue; three children, Sean Jacob Crist and partner, Dennis Dillahunt; Brian Scott Crist, and Lara Nicole Polster and husband, Adam; two grandchildren, June Polster and Dean Polster; two sisters, Eleanor Mae Mason and husband, William, and Catherine Florence Strickler and husband, Charles; and many nieces and nephews.


John was passionate about nature and travel. He and Sue built a home overlooking Cheat Lake, and he was grateful every day for this little piece of paradise. His hob­bies and interests included hunting, shooting, fishing, boating, collecting model trains, and owning and raising Belgian draft horses.

He was an endowment member of the NRA and was active in the West Virginia Draft Horse and Mule Association having served many years on the Board of Direc­tors.


In honoring John’s wishes, cremation services will be provided by Hastings Funer­al Home. In lieu of flowers, charitable contributions may be made to the National Wildlife Federation, 11100 Wildlife Center Drive, Reston, VA 20190.


A memorial service will be held on March 17, 2018 with details to follow at a later date.

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