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Lois R. Cranford

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Lois R. Cranford Obituary
Lois R. Cranford


Lois Ribelin Cranford, 93, died on November 2, 2017 after a brief illness. She lived a splendid and exceedingly full life that exemplified the Rotary motto of Service Above Self, and her passing marks yet another "end of an era" moment for the Durham community.

A resident of Durham for more than 70 years, Lois grew up in Greenwood, S.C. She took pleasure in a busy life packed with adventures and accomplishments. In her later years, poor vision and hearing frustrated her greatly, and her family rejoices that she has now moved ahead on a new journey, reunited with her husband H.C. and with her full energy restored and never-failing enthusiasm intact.

Lois was a beloved wife, mother, grandmother, aunt, and friend, but those words don't begin to capture her. "Force of nature" comes closer. Nothing intimidated her, a lesson she shared with her daughters Susan and Kathryn and her nine grandchildren. Her can-do spirit and willingness to jump in and try to solve problems or help anyone who needed her is a powerful example for all.

Her life extended far beyond the traditional roles expected of a woman of her generation. Lois was a devoted wife, marvelous Southern cook, hands-on mom who drove a thousand carpools, and was recognized as one of Durham's "Mothers of the Year" in 1978. But she also had a successful career in journalism and public relations, and always carried herself as a professional whether or not she was getting paid for her work.

No job was too big or too small. Lois led Girl Scout troops with gusto, and was an avid camp leader and crafts teacher. She tackled challenges within Durham's nonprofit community as a board member and leader with the United Way, Volunteer Center, and Family Counseling Service. She arranged roses for First Baptist Church, delivered flowers for the hospital auxiliary, and sold carnations and poinsettias to raise money for Rotary scholarships. Lois bought and sold silver flatware for many years (H.C. called her the Silver Queen). She ran UNC reunions and volunteered in the School of Journalism's Charles Kuralt Center. Her energy and enthusiasm were legendary.

Lois also took great pleasure and pride in being H.C.'s sidekick on his many community endeavors, whether at Blue Cross and Blue Shield, the United Way, the City of Medicine, the Convention and Business Bureau, Red Cross, or their favorite: Rotary. They were a powerful team.

Lois touched lives all across her adopted hometown of Durham. A peek in the trunk of the forest green Continental she drove for decades would give a glimpse of the tools of her trade: fried chicken and pimento cheese sandwiches for the volunteers on a Habitat House; groceries for a family she had taken under her wing; Thanksgiving dinner for the residents of the battered women shelter; hundreds of boxes of Girl Scout cookies to be delivered; or children's bikes for the Salvation Army at Christmas. She raised her daughters to care about their communities and they have tried to follow her lead in Durham and Charlotte.

The Cranfords were enthusiastic world travelers, and over a span of 30 years they visited some 35 countries on 6 continents, went to all 50 states, and to each of North Carolina's 100 counties. After H.C.'s death Lois continued her adventures on tall mast ships in the Greek Isles, a train across Canada, a Rotary exchange to Durham, UK, and a solo jaunt to Tahiti in her 80s because she had always wanted to go there. She enjoyed talking about exotic trips they had taken and rereading the wonderful travel journals she kept about places like Bali, the Taj Mahal, Machu Pichu, and China.

She loved songs from the 1940s, reading the Herald-Sun, phone calls from her grandchildren, feeding the birds on her back porches, the beauty of nature, and food cooked the way she liked it. Actually, she loved just about everything.

Lois is survived by her two daughters, Susan Ross and her husband, Tom Hadzor of Durham, and Kathryn Raby and her husband, Jim Raby of Charlotte; her nine grandchildren: Andy Ross and wife Katherine, Sarah Ross, Will Raby, Harrison Raby, Elizabeth Raby, Sarah Hadzor Worley and husband Karl, Becca Hadzor Wildsmith and husband Tim, Bobby Hadzor and fiancé Julie Campbell, and Tommy Hadzor and wife Sarah Beth; her great-granddaughters Gertie Worley and Emma Kate Hadzor; her sister Elizabeth Tillman and husband, Ted, of Plant City, FL, her sister-in-law, Lucille Cranford of Durham and Clearwater, FL, five nieces and a nephew. She was pre-deceased by her husband H.C. Cranford, Jr. in 2004; her parents, Erma and Carter Ribelin; her sister, Norma Malone; her son-in-law, Bobby Ross; and her brother-in-law, Tom Cranford. She is also survived by a legion of friends of all ages, particularly the surviving members of her long-time Christmas Progressive Dinner Party, Ralph and Lib Rogers and Jackie Lane; close friend Carol Kurtz; and her devoted "readers" from her church, Trinity Avenue Presbyterian: Suzy Ward, Carol Leach and Marie Grauerholz.

The family would like to thank the staff of Carillon Assisted Living, where Lois lived for the past four years, and the nurses at Hock Family Pavilion for their gentle hospice care.

Funeral services will be held 2:30 PM Monday in Trinity Avenue Church, 927 Trinity Ave., with The Rev. Katie Crowe and The Rev. Robert Hadzor officiating. Special music will begin at 2:00 PM. Friends may visit 5-8 PM Sunday at Hall Wynne Funeral Service. Close friends are invited to join the family for the committal service 11 AM Monday at Maplewood Cemetery.

Contributions in Lois' memory may be made to the Rotary Club of Durham's Lois Cranford Learning Legacy Fund for scholarships (checks to the Durham Rotary Club mailed to PO Box 51572, Durham NC 27717), or to the Lois and H.C. Cranford PR Award Fund at the UNC School of Media and Journalism, (Checks to UNC, mailed to Box 3365, Carroll Hall, Chapel Hill 27514). Or, as the holidays approach, you may want to buy a bicycle for a child at Christmas time.

Online tributes: hallwynne.com
Published in HeraldSun from Nov. 4 to Nov. 5, 2017
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