Jody Stahancyk holds small-town life in very high regard.
She remembers that passion influencing a decision she made back in 1982, while living in the Portland area, when her two kids were still too young for grade school.
"Seth was 4 years old and Kate was 9 months. I became concerned that the children would not be able to experience small-town events such as the Crooked River Roundup," she said. "So I invited a bus load of people from Portland to accompany me to Prineville, and everybody but Kate had to be at least 4 years old."
Fast forward to present day, and the annual bus trip remains. While it happened sporadically for the first few years after its maiden journey, Stahancyk says proudly that the trip has taken place every year for the past two decades.
After years of making sure she and her friends in Portland never missed the Crooked River Roundup, Stahancyk was recently chosen by the Roundup board to serve as its 2017 Grand Marshal.
"I am very excited to help represent Crook County and to bring people to this fine event that the rodeo board is putting on," she remarked.
Stahancyk's Crook County roots can be traced back to 1924 when her grandfather, Joseph Stahancyk Sr., moved to Prineville and bought a piece of property off of Lamonta Road. Having emigrated from Poland with his children, including Jody's father, Joe, and his four other siblings, the family settled on the property with plans to operate a farm.
"My grandfather heard that you could make a lot of money by moving to Crook County and buying a farm," Stahancyk remarked.
Her father graduated from Crook County High School in 1938 and went to Oregon State University on a basketball scholarship. Ten years later, Jody was born in the same house on Lamonta Road that her father spent his childhood.
Stahancyk graduated from Crook County High School in 1966 and spent the six years that followed working as lifeguard at the Prineville swimming pool or operating the facility.
"I taught many of the children in Prineville to swim," she said.
Also during that time, she attended Linfield College, graduating in 1970. By then, she had already determined her career path – in fact she had decided what she wanted to do for a living by the age of 14. She remembers a schoolteacher asking the kids in her class what they wanted to be when they grew up.
"So I thought about it," she said, "and thought (a lawyer) is the only job that you get paid to talk – and I really like to talk."
Stahancyk consequently decided to enroll at the University of Oregon's law school, a decision that her father didn't necessarily support. She remembers him telling her that no person in his family would be allowed to go to an awful school like the University of Oregon.
"I said, 'Fine, I was also accepted to Willamette (University) and it costs three times as much. When he learned the price differential, my father said, 'Girl, you just won your first case.'"
In 1973, Stahancyk graduated from law school and hoped to start her career in Prineville. Instead, two things stopped her.
"One was someone said this will be great, you can run the pool in the summer and work in the DA's office in the winter," she laughed. "I said, 'Oh my, I'll never get away from that pool.'"
The second reason was tied to her future husband, John Crawford. She explains that she was working for Jim Goodwin, a man who has roots in Prineville and is the brother of Ted Goodwin, who is currently the most senior federal judge on the Ninth Circuit.
"My husband called Jim and said I really want to marry her and I have a job in Portland," Stahancyk said, "so Jim got me a job in the Multnomah County DA's Office."
These days, Stahancyk is reluctant to name a city of residence. The Stahancyk, Kent and Hook P.C. law firm has offices in Portland and Prineville as well as Bend, Astoria and Vancouver, Washington. She says that she sometimes lives at the beach and other times in Portland.
"But my heart is in Prineville," she added.
She and John consider themselves the parents of three children. Their son, Seth Crawford, currently lives in Prineville and serves as Crook County Judge. Their daughter, Kate, is a CPA in Portland.
"The person we consider our third child is Weronika Budak, who is my cousin from Poland," Stahancyk said.
She also has three granddaughters, Chloe, Reagan Lee and Landon.
In her role as grand marshal, Stahancyk will make appearances at various rodeos throughout the state and participate in numerous Crooked River Roundup events, including the annual parade. She is pleased with the leadership shown in preparation for the 2017 version of the Roundup, noting that Roundup Board President Jason Snider and the rest of the board "are really stepping up and doing an amazing rodeo performance."
"We are getting a lot more press and interest," she has observed, "so that people are coming into Prineville to be able to experience this event and enjoy Prineville."