John Crane Carries Unique Family History and Purpose Into Office

Writer  /  Ruth Schenk
Photographer  /  Kyle Duell


In January, John Crane will take a seat in the Indiana Statehouse representing District 24 in the Indiana State Senate.

It’s a new role — his first in public office. When he takes office, his goals will be threefold, he said: listen before you legislate, focus on local control and don’t negotiate on non-negotiables.

Winning the seat in the Indiana Senate is only part of Crane’s story. Though he has multiple degrees, studied at Oxford in England, writes columns, blogs and articles, he sees himself as a simple family man, defined by age-old principles of faith and family.

John and his wife, Jean, live in Avon with their four children, Caleb, Andrew, Mark and Emma, and his family keeps him extremely busy. This, however, has not kept Crane from giving back, including the 2010 founding of the Sagamore Leadership Initiative, Inc., which was created to train the next generation of leaders.

There were times, however, when life didn’t unfold as planned.

Crane was just 11 when the family farmhouse burned to ashes in an electrical fire. The family lost everything but the clothes on their backs.

“That fire taught us not to hold too tightly to possessions and that Hoosier hospitality is real,” Crane said. “Neighbors helping neighbors embodies the best about our state.”


He also has a heart for the unemployed and underemployed. This concern goes back to 2008 when he was a youth pastor. His position was eliminated and he found himself unemployed. Doors to a new position didn’t swing open immediately, so to pay the bills he took any job he could find, including delivering newspapers for the Indianapolis Star.

He admits those days were tough on his ego, especially after earning multiple degrees. But they also sparked empathy for those in similar situations.

“I decided I could look at unemployment as regressing in my professional development or I could look at it as learning experience,” Crane said. “I have a heart for working men and women who want to make a contribution and provide basic necessities for their families.”

As a youngster, Crane planned to follow in his parents’ footsteps and serve in the military. They met in Vietnam during the war, where his father was a psychiatrist with the 25th Infantry Division, treating men and women dealing with what is now known as post-traumatic stress disorder. His mother served as a nurse at the 12th Evacuation hospital, caring for the wounded.


Crane hope to serve, as well, but that dream was dashed due to a limp he acquired during surgery when he was 2 years old. While the limp never slowed him down, it did prevent his enlistment.

That, too, became a turning point.

“I realized I might not be called to serve in the American military, but there are other ways to make a contribution to my family, community and the nation,” he said.

That desire to serve eventually led to the idea of running for political office. He hadn’t thought about it until friends urged him to consider it. At the time, he was busy as CEO of the Sagamore Leadership Initiative, Inc.

Crane said he founded Sagamore because he sees potential in today’s youth as future leaders.

“Many are disheartened as they look at young people today, but at Sagamore, we work with young leaders with tremendous potential,” he said. “They are waiting for someone to come alongside them to focus on reaching their full potential.

“We are blessed to live in the greatest nation in the world. We can make a difference by having courage when it counts.”

Comments 1

  1. Joan Billman says:

    Thank you for writing this beautiful article on one very special young man who will be a great leader for Indiana. To know John is to love him as a great family man, a Godly man, a caring individual, a friend to all, a leader, and a patriot. I look forward to seeing what Senator John Crane will do for our country.

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