Curtis Don Cranford, 84, lifelong resident of White County, went to be with the Lord January 4, 2021 at Unity Health in Searcy. Don, as he was known, came into this world the 4th of July 1936 near the McRae community known as Copperas Springs to the late Elvis Neil and Euva Dell Latimer Cranford.
Don married Alcia Dean Nolen Cranford, August 9, 1957 at Little Rock. She preceded him in death July 27, 2016. Along with his wife and parents, Don was preceded in death by a brother, Bobby Neil Cranford.
He leaves to cherish his legacy and memories two daughters, Cherie Sewell (Bill) of Searcy and Melanie Frederick (John) of Pangburn; six grandchildren, Greg Thrasher (Shelly), Becky Pearson (Clay), Stephanie Wortham, Katie Hulsey (Chris), Catherine Reaper, Josh Frederick; twelve great grandchildren; as well as numerous extended family and friends.
Summarizing a lifetime of memories, especially a life like Don Cranford led, is no easy task without writing a book. When you met Don, one of the first things you would always know first and foremost was he was a Christian, and he wanted you to be one as well. He, and his late wife, Dean, were longtime members of Trinity Baptist Church in Searcy, joining just after its founding. In his early years with the church, Music was a passion of Don’s. In his young years, he sang in a Quartet, which is where he met his wife. Later, utilizing his tenor voice, he joined the choir at Trinity, and also led the music and choir in the church for several years. Most recently, he had served as a deacon for over 40 years and was also an active Gideon as well.
Don was a true “salt of the earth” type man. He gave a 110% in whatever adventure or task he undertook. He tried his hand at numerous professions and trades over the years, in which he never left employment anywhere on bad terms, says a lot about a man’s character. Early on, after marrying his late wife, Dean, Don worked for Safeway where he learned the grocery business; he would later use this knowledge to open his own store; he then ran a bread route for Wonder Bread. He also tried his hand at ARKLA Gas, King & Neir Furniture, then worked for Massey Dodge before he opened Cranford’s Grocery in the Gum Springs Community, where he had settled his family for that period of time. While in the Gum Springs Community, Don, being the hands-on type of man he was, helped establish and served on the Gum Springs Fire Department that still operates today.
After Don had sold his grocery business, he returned to the auto sales business, as a salesman for Carder Buick in Searcy for several years. It was during this time he was inspired to open Don’s Auto Sales in Searcy which he operated for several years as well. It was this point Don tried to retire for the first time, however, this was not for someone as active as he was. Knowing he did not want to work full time, but enjoying serving others, Don started what would turn out to be another career he later referred to as his “missed calling” working in funeral service. For someone as loving and caring as Don was, funeral service was a natural fit for an individual like him and he often said he wished he could have started his career in a funeral home earlier in life. Nonetheless, Don proudly served families of White County first serving his apprenticeship with Roller-Daniel Funeral Home, retiring this time to care for his ill wife. Upon her passing, and after his grief had subsided, he worked for Powell Funeral Homes briefly before lastly working for Sullivan Funeral Care, until his health failed him. While Don wasn’t active with the funeral home, he often would have a close friend, Jake Wilf, bring him by for a visit to check on things – and “keep everyone in line”, as he would say.
Although, the last couple of years of Don’s life had several ups and downs, one thing can be said is he faced all the challenges he had like a man who had nothing to fear and everything to gain. And, again, after all the great experiences and memories Don had, at the end of the day, he wanted to know that his friends and family were saved so we can all be reunited again. That is the legacy that Curtis Don Cranford will leave.
Visiting hours will be 5-7 p.m. Thursday, January 7, 2021 in the Sullivan Memorial Chapel. Funeral services will be 2:00 p.m. Friday, January 8, 2021 at Trinity Baptist Church in Searcy with Don’s grandson, Greg Thrasher and Pastor Tim Noel, officiating. Burial will follow at Gum Springs Cemetery under the care of Sullivan Funeral Care – Memorial Chapel & Crematory. The family asks that masks and social distancing be observed. The service will be live-streamed on Trinity Baptist Church’s Youtube page.
In lieu of flowers the family asks that donations be made to Gideons International.
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