He was smart, but humble.
He was serious about his work, but loved to make people laugh.
He was friends with everyone, but no one realized the impact he had on others until now.
Those who knew Jack Crean emphatically brought up those qualities Monday when they talked about him, one day after police found his body at a construction site at Penn State’s HUB-Robeson Center.
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Lisa Powers, the university’s director of strategic communications, said it appeared Crean fell or jumped off a crane on the site. Penn State police are investigating and have declined comment. Judy Pleskonko, Centre County’s chief deputy coroner, said an autopsy done Sunday night indicated Crean died from “blunt force trauma” from the fall.
People who knew Crean recalled how he connected with other people.
Chris Stewart, Crean’s manager at Best Buy, said Crean played with his 3-year old son when he came into the store. Scott DeShong, State College Area High School’s principal, said he related to students and teachers alike. Maggie Griffin, a friend, didn’t realize how many people felt close to him.
“He made an effort to make friends with everyone around him, so he had so many friends,” Griffin said.
Jules Kiratzis, Crean’s friend since eighth grade and his Penn State roommate, said he had an uncanny ability to make friends laugh.
“He made everyone laugh, and it didn’t matter who you were,” Kiratzis said. “He had the best sense of humor, and I’m in such disbelief. He was so funny, and he had so much going for him. He always talked about joining the Financial Club at Penn State. He told me that at least 100 times.”
Mitchell Walker, a Penn State freshman, said via text Crean made others happy through his humor.
“He would always give me these sarcastic winks when we both knew we were thinking the same thing, and at the most unexpected times he would just have the most funny looking facial expressions,” Walker said. “... Or if we watched a movie together and everyone burst out laughing I would look at him, and he would just be staring at me with a straight face just to make me laugh even more. His goal was to make all of his friends happy all the time, and he succeeded at it.”
Griffin said he expected Crean to be successful, likely in business. They worked together at State High’s Distributive Education Club of America, a club specializing in business, before they each went to Penn State this summer.
“He worked on finances, and I was the president, but I still looked up to him,” Griffin said.
Griffin said Crean’s dream was to work on Wall Street, a goal so important to him that she called him “The Wolf of Wall Street.” In Griffin’s senior yearbook, Crean left his mark by listing what stocks she should invest in.
Others saw potential in Crean.
DeShong talked about Crean’s involvement in DECA and as a manager for the Roar Store, a school-based store run by students, as possible indicators of Crean’s future.
“He was pretty focused on what he wanted to do,” DeShong said. “He was into business careers, and he seemed to have a pretty good eye on what he wanted to do when he finished at State High.”
Stewart took notice of Crean’s drive, too.
Crean had just been promoted to work in the store’s mobile sales department. Previously a cashier, Crean left no doubt that he would get the job.
“I remember him with a book at his post studying for this interview and how he wanted it so bad,” Stewart said. “Everyone was amazed by the effort he put into everything he did, especially for a young guy with school, friends, and I think sports, too. To put in that much effort in for a part-time job is extraordinary.”
Crean’s friends, struggling to cope with his death, said they have talked with each other about how they want to have success to honor him.
“We looked up to his drive, because he didn’t have a goal without a plan to achieve that goal,” Kiratzis said. “We definitely want to be successful for him. I hope me and all of our close friends have success, because I know he’d want us to achieve and do the things he wanted to do.”