Before her death Saturday at the age of 76, Faith "Bunny" Crumpacker was at her happiest when adding to the wealth of material that was not only her livelihood, but also the stone upon which she built her reputation. Though the food expert, author and editor left behind countless books and pamphlets about food and cooking before she died of cancer, it was her family that was among the most important elements in her life.
Crumpacker, a New York City native, was born Faith Ann Shagaloff in 1933. Raised on Long Island, she graduated from Baldwin High School before attending Antioch College in Yellow Springs, Ohio.
She began her writing career working for Franklin Watts Publishing in New York, then was an assistant editor at Harper and Co. publishers (now HarperCollins Publishers) before accepting the position that would lead her to her husband.
While working in the publicity department at RCA Records, she met C.E. "Chick" Crumpacker. They married in 1961 and moved to Valley Cottage in 1969. It was here, while continuing her career and raising her family, that Bunny Crumpacker began to truly make her mark on the Rockland community.
"She was a very involved person, both with her family and her writing," said Chick Crumpacker. "She wrote a lot of different kinds of things — not simply about food, which was her main interest. She was interested in community events. She was very much into Rockland County as a venue."
In the 1970s and 1980s, Bunny Crumpacker, also an accomplished pianist, worked as a music and drama critic for the precursor to The Journal News. Her husband said that role let her meld her love of music with her love of family.
"She enjoyed going to plays and musical events — concerts and recitals. She really covered the ground," he said. "She was very close to the kids, and when they were of age, she would take them to these events."
Bunny Crumpacker enjoyed herself most, however, in her later years, when not working within the confines of an office.
"I think she was happiest toward the end," her husband said, "when she came home and could sit at her computer. ... It was writing her own material at home that pleased her the most."
This material included "The Sex Life of Food" (St. Martin's Press, 2006), "Perfect Figures" (Thomas Dunne Books, 2007) and "How to Slice an Onion" (Thomas Dunne Books, 2009). Her work was reviewed in such publications as The Washington Post and The New York Times.
In 2008, she was an honoree at the County Executive Arts Awards. She also collected tens of thousands of recipes while writing about food. That she loved cooking as much as she loved writing about cooking was one element that let the family come closer together, Chick Crumpacker said. "
She was the best cook I ever knew," he said. "She was pretty serious about those things, but we had many, many laughs together."
In addition to her husband, she is survived two daughters, Caroline Crumpacker of Rhinebeck and Jil Picariello of New York City; a son, Charles "Casey" Crumpacker of Oakland, Calif.; a granddaughter, Colette O'Malley of Rhinebeck; a sister, June Alexander of West Nyack; a nephew, David Alexander of Tel Aviv, Israel; and a stepdaughter, Catherine Wolz of Arlington, Va. The family has not finalized memorial plans but said a service would be held around Labor Day.