Robert E. Jack Cranford, 82, a life-long resident of Stanly County, died on Easter Sunday at the Carolinas Rehabilitation Center in Concord, NC where he was recovering from heart bypass surgery. All his immediate family, including a 2 year-old great granddaughter, had spent a joyful day with Jack, who died shortly after they departed.
A 1957 graduate of Albemarle High School, Cranford played on AHS Bulldogs football teams coached by the legendary Toby Webb. A tackle on the defensive line, Jack was a part of what the Charlotte News called the “wrecking crew” and a team that lost only two games during the four years he played. David Grigg, a retired Albemarle attorney who also was on those Bulldogs teams, said, “Jack was a great teammate and a good friend for 60-plus years.”
The 1957 AHS yearbook, Crossroads, noted Jack’s dominant trait as being “co-operative.” As with so many of his Bulldogs teammates, Jack was greatly influenced by Coach Webb, who – in the words of Bulldogs player and well known Raleigh attorney Wade Smith – taught them, “Do your best on every play and don’t brag about it.”
Cranford attended Western Carolina University where he played football for a year. Returning to Albemarle, he worked at Wiscassett Hosiery Mill, then in various sales positions, most notably as a highly successful auto salesman for Morgan Motor Company. One of his greatest points of pride was having helped his revered Coach Webb in the purchasing of all his cars. And former Bulldogs teammate David Grigg said, “I bought my cars from Jack because I knew he was a straight shooter and I could rely on anything he told me.” Grigg added, “He was a solid business person and was an active contributor to progress in our community.”
Jack Cranford is survived by his wife of 57 years, Miriam Wilhoit Cranford. Together, Jack and Miriam helped organize and execute the recent public presentations about local history by the Stanly County Historical Society and Museum.
Jack Cranford was the son of the late Norman Nathan Cranford and Ethel Early Cranford. He retired from Morgan Motor Company and was a former member of the Army National Guard in Albemarle. He was a member of the Stanly County Historical Society and past board member of the Stanly County Senior Center.
In addition to wife Miriam Wilhoit Cranford, Jack is survived by a son, Robert E. Cranford, Jr. of Albemarle; a daughter, Michelle Cranford Drago (and husband Ronald Drago, II) of Kannapolis, NC; three grandchildren: Makayla Thompson (husband, Timothy Carter), Cecilia Drago and Ronald Drago; and great granddaughter, Emmerlyn Carter and great grandson, Wesley Carter. He was preceded in death by a son, Kelly Joe Cranford and a granddaughter, Samantha Drago.
The funeral service will be at 2 p.m. Thursday, April 25 in the Stanly Funeral and Cremation Care Chapel of Albemarle, with Rev. Keith Walters officiating. Burial will be private. The family will receive friends following the service at the funeral home.
Memorials may be made to Stanly County Senior Center, 283 N. 3rd Street, Albemarle, NC 28001 or the Stanly Historical Society, 157 N. 2nd St. Albemarle, NC 28001.
Stanly Funeral and Cremation Care of Albemarle is serving the Cranford Family.