Eli Crawford, of Eli's Bar-B-Que, dies at 71

click to enlarge Eli Crawford of Eli's Bar-b-que, has died at 71. - Shanna Gillette
Shanna Gillette
Eli Crawford of Eli's Bar-b-que, has died at 71.

click to enlarge Eli Crawford of Eli's Bar-b-que, has died at 71. - Shanna Gillette
Shanna Gillette
Eli Crawford of Eli's Bar-b-que, has died at 71.

It wasn't just the ribs, almost inappropriately tender and juicy, that made Eli's Bar-B-Que in Dunedin. It was Eli Crawford, a shepherd of meat to the promise land of barbecue. It was almost as if the racks of ribs knew they were in the right hands when they reached Crawford. And they submitted to his barbecue will every time.

Eli Crawford, 71, died on March 14. The Tampa Bay Times' Andrew Meacham reported Friday that Crawford passed away after a battle with leukemia.