MONTREAL - Sunday would have been Antoine Craan’s 79th birthday.
On his Facebook page, he asked friends and family to fulfill a birthday wish by donating money to a group that helps girls and women who have undergone genital mutilation.
Craan was not your typical elderly man, his daughter Caroll-yn Craan, 49, said Saturday night.
“He was just a ball of energy,” she said by phone from her Montreal home. “He never stopped working.”
Craan, who was born in Port-au-Prince but spent most of his adult life in Montreal, moved back to Haiti 15 years ago. He died at work on Tuesday, minutes after the quake hit. His family only learned of his death on Friday night when the husband of a co-worker phoned Caroll-yn.
Craan moved to Montreal in 1955 at the age of 24, and lived in the Plateau Mont Royal and Rosemont districts. He was one of the first two black players to play professional soccer in Quebec, for the Tricolore de Montréal. From the 1960s until he left Montreal, he worked in the office of the Ligue de Soccer Mineur in Montreal. He was also the technical director for the Fédération de Soccer du Québec, and trained referees. Craan was inducted to the soccer federation’s hall of fame in 2001.
In Haiti, Craan was the director of the École fédérale de l’arbitrage de football. He also travelled to many countries, accompanying young soccer players in tournaments.
Craan was at his office when the quake hit on Tuesday. The building wasn’t severely damaged, and all the employees were able to evacuate the building.
Craan also escaped the building, but died instantly shortly afterward when a piece of concrete fell on him. He was buried in a cemetery near his office.
Craan, who had seven children in Montreal, recently re-married. On Christmas Eve, he celebrated his one-year anniversary with Gertha Daquin-Craan, 38.
Both she and her daughter Mihalove, 13, are among the hundreds of thousands of Haitians still missing yesterday. It’s believed they were in their house in the town of Canapé Vert, near Port-au-Prince, when it collapsed.
“We’re anxious to hear any news about them,” Caroll-yn said. “We’re continuing to send out messages to try to find out anything about them. I think my father was the only family they had.”
She said she was angry to hear about her father’s death, but she’s glad that at least he was given a proper burial rather than being piled into a ditch with thousands of other quake victims.
Another of Craan’s daughters, Dany, 51, said her father’s death came as a relief after days of anxiety.
“We didn’t sleep from Tuesday until we heard. We were worried that he was trapped somewhere and he was suffering,” Dany said. “At least he died where he wanted to be.”