In 1977 my future husband brought me to meet his parents in his old home town of Madison, Indiana. While his mom was very talkative, his dad barely spoke to me which scared me a little. I wondered if he he didn’t like me. But I soon learned that James Crandell was a man of few words and that he chose his words wisely. He had a quiet and gentle spirit about him.

James was also a man of integrity. He served bravely as a US Air Force Tech Sargent aircraft mechanic during WWII. After the war he worked for many years as a Service Manager at the local Oldsmobile Dealership, and by the time I met him he was a successful, hard working farmer. He loved meeting his friends at the local coffee shop. He loved his dog. He loved good food. He loved his country. He loved God. He loved his family, and he loved his wife, Mildred. Plain and simple, James was a good man and I was blessed to call him my father-in-law.

By the time James was in his early 90’s, and Mildred in her 80’s, they came to live with us in Texas. Soon after, knowing that James enjoyed working on things around the house, we asked him to fix a loose toilet handle. My husband and I went to work and came home that afternoon to find that he had taken the toilet completely off of the base, and it was laying out all over the bathroom floor in several pieces! We had a good laugh and then called our son-in-law, to come put it all back together. It was then we realized that his ability to fix things wasn’t quite like it used to be.

Concerning meals, I figured out early-on that pasta and casseroles were not his favorite dishes. My husband would ask him, “How did you like that dinner Daddy?!” He would often reply, “Alright.” Then, every once and a while he’d say, “That’s good stuff!” I was really happy to hear these words whenever he said them, and thought I was doing good until I figured out that he said the same thing when he ate a McDonald’s chicken sandwich: “That’s good stuff!”

One day I took him for a hair cut and I thought I’d treat him with lunch at Jason’s Deli, one of my favorite restaurants. After we finished I asked him how he liked his meal and he replied, “Not too good.” That was the first time he’d said that to me. It wasn’t even “Alright.” It was “Not too good.”

Later on, as his condition progressed, it got to the point where he didn’t remember my name, so he just called me “the cook.” My husband joked with him often about problems with “the cook,” which gave my husband endless opportunities to make fun of my cooking! The laughter was good medicine for all of us.

Within a couple of years of coming to live with us, both James and Mildred moved into a nearby assisted living home. Not too long afterward, James passed away at the age of 95, on Valentine’s Day in 2014, leaving his beloved wife, Mildred, a widow after over 72 years of marriage. Mildred passed away the following January.

After James’ passing, I found some handwritten notes that he took while a member at North Madison Baptist Church back in the 1960’s. They still hold true today. Here’s a few of them:

⁃ We believe about God what the Bible tells us.

⁃ God created the world.

⁃ God is all powerful.

⁃ God is everywhere present.

⁃ God is all knowing.

⁃ God is a personal God.

⁃ God reveals himself through nature.

⁃ God reveals himself through the Bible, through people, through the Holy Spirit. The greatest way through Jesus Christ.

⁃ God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself.

⁃ Sin is falling short, transgressions, going across boundaries.

⁃ When we sin, we should feel guilty. This is healthy.

⁃ Guilt is God given. It serves as a temperature gauge. It urges us to correct what is wrong.

⁃ Christ died for our sins.

⁃ When we become a Christian, we do not become sinless.

⁃ There is one way. Jesus Christ is the one way of salvation.

I believe James is in heaven today, where he’s spending eternity with Jesus, and not because he was a good man, but because one day, years ago he recognized himself as a sinner, in need of a Savior, and he placed his faith and trust in Jesus Christ. The same applies to his beloved Mildred. Here’s just a few photos:

Mildred, Circa 1941
Mildred and James, Circa 1990’s
2010 Family Dinner in Florida
2010 Family Dinner. This was on our trip to Florida in celebration of our 30th wedding anniversary.

This month I made a video photo collage in honor of James for Veterans Day, and thought it’d be fitting to blog about him as well, and thus here it is. He was in fact, a part of what has affectionately been named, The Greatest Generation, and here’s the link to the video: https://youtu.be/WxuNgqphIuE

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