Chris Crutchfield was enjoying dinner at Target Field minutes before a Minnesota Twins baseball game when an employee called his brother.
Moments later, Chris followed dermatologist Charles Crutchfield III into the clubhouse where the Twins’ stars gathered.
“He was needed right away, he came in, took care of an issue and helped right away,” Chris said. “But that’s just my brother. I mean, that kind of thing was happening all the time.”
Charles Crutchfield III, a noted dermatologist who worked with the Twins as well as the Minnesota Timberwolves, Lynx, Vikings and Wild, died Wednesday of non-Hodgkin lymphoma. He was 62 years old.
Crutchfield, who graduated from Carleton College and the University of Minnesota Medical School, had a private dermatology practice in Eagan. A former president of the Minnesota Association of Black Physicians, he wrote weekly health columns for the black-owned Spokesman-Recorder newspaper in Minneapolis.
His specialty was ethnic skin, and his star patients included baseball player David Ortiz, boxer Floyd Mayweather, and football player Percy Harvin.
“It’s different than Caucasian skin,” Chris Crutchfield said. “There are special problems, and he was able to help a lot of black and brown-skinned people, who had no other options.”
Once, Chris sent his brother a photo of a blemish on his friend’s face. He got a call at 5 the next morning.
“Hey, tell your friend that he needs to come to my office this week, probably tomorrow or later today. Tell him that he has cancer; he’s not going to kill him, but I need to see him right away,” Chris recalls his brother telling him. “That’s just a typical story of my brother. I sent him a picture and he was everywhere. He helped us.”
Longtime friend David “TC” Ellis, who opened the Recording Arts High School in St. Paul, said Crutchfield would award his students about $5,000 in scholarships each year since the school opened.
“A lot of times, people who are very successful become disconnected from the community, and he was a huge supporter of the African-American community,” Ellis said. “But not only that, it didn’t matter what race you were, or nationality. If he could help you, he would.
Due to Crutchfield’s deteriorating health, this year’s scholarships were awarded early, while he was in hospital.
“I wanted to put it up because I didn’t know if I was going to be there,” Ellis said.
Crutchfield was the son of two prominent Twin Cities physicians. His mother, Susan Crutchfield, was the first black woman to graduate from U medical school and the youngest, at 22. His father, Charles Crutchfield Jr., was a noted obstetrician and gynecologist.
Crutchfield had three children of his own.
“His number 1 priority was being a good father and helping his children achieve their dreams,” said Chris Crutchfield. “(It resulted) in three just wonderful, wonderful young men.”
The Spokesman-Recorder called Crutchfield “a cheerful and optimistic source of ideas, encouragement and insight” to the newspaper’s editors and staff.
“The most amazing thing about him was that he was…a great scientist and doctor, but he was also a great person,” Ellis said. “He could navigate both sides of the coin. … I was lucky to have him as such a close friend. It was an incredible journey. And heartbreaking to lose.”
Crutchfield is survived by his wife, Laurie, and their children Olivia, Arianna, and Charles IV. Funeral arrangements were pending Friday.