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Clarence H. "Jim" Cantrell Jr.

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Clarence H. "Jim" Cantrell Jr.,

Clarence H. Cantrell Jr., "Jim", 80, passed away on Memorial Day, Monday, May 30, 2011. Jim came from humble beginnings. He was born in Dekalb County, Tennessee, to farmer Clarence H. Cantrell, Sr., and Mary Leola Jones on July 11, 1930. Growing up in the depression era, Jim first learned the bitterness of life by the death of his mother at age eight. Then around the same time, he spent a year in the hospital diagnosed with rheumatic fever and enlarged heart. At age seventeen he dropped out of high school, and lying about his age, joined the United States Air Force as an E1, airman basic. Trained as a navigator bombardier, Jim spent four years stationed in Germany. He furthered his education while in the military, advancing in rank to Major Cantrell through the benefits of a college degree, and an innate sense of duty and commitment. He spent 12 years in SAC, the prestigious Strategic Air Command, where he was highly decorated for his missions. He was a proud member of the 305 Bomb WG, stationed at Bunker Hill Air Force Base until his retirement after twenty years of service on December 1, 1967.

In 1968, Jim moved his family to Tallahassee where he embarked on a new career into the world of business. He brought the first Taco Bell Restaurant to the area, amassing seven more Taco Bells in Florida and Georgia before selling out in 1988. Jim was a self-made man with a natural instinct for business opportunities. Throughout the later years of his life he embarked on several entrepreneur ventures, such as real estate, and when he finally retired from business, he retired with a sense of pride in his life's accomplishments, and with the respect from all that knew him.

Jim loved life! He loved to travel, and was an amateur photographer and painter. He enjoyed the simple things, the beauty and sounds of nature, especially those in the North Carolina Mountains and the white sandy beaches of the Gulf. He enjoyed watching the birds and listening to the bullfrogs near his lakefront home. He liked the music and merriment with family and friends, having cookouts and playing cards.

He was a sports fan, an avid golfer, and a Florida State Seminole Booster.

Jim was a good, compassionate, Southern gentleman devoted to his love for country, his family, and friends. He was a devoted husband of 58 years to his lovely wife, Lois. A loving father to his two children, Deborah and Steve, and a doting and supportive grandfather of two, and great-grandfather of five. Jim was a friend and good listener to all those that would seek out his advice and counsel. He worked tirelessly to help those in need and supported many charities. He looked at life in a positive fashion, never letting a day go by without being thankful for his many blessings. He looked at the challenges of life as learning experiences, always putting a positive spin on things that happen in life.

He always looked for the good in people and was never critical or condescending. He celebrated life each day, and appreciated all life had given him. He will be remembered by all of us honored to have known him, and will remain in our hearts forevermore. God bless our papaw!

A "Celebration of Life" Memorial to Jim Cantrell is scheduled for Saturday, June 4, 2011, 2 p.m. at Julie's Place, 2901 N. Monroe St., Tallahassee, Florida. It is open to all those that knew and loved Jim. In lieu of gifts or flowers, the family wishes that you make a donation in his name to one of two of his favorite charities; The American Red Cross, or The Salvation Army.

His wife Lois and his son Steve Cantrell of Tallahassee survive him along with his grandson Joseph M. Cavazos and wife Amy, and great-grandsons Steven, Noah, and Carl James Cavazos of Bloomington, Indiana, granddaughter, Tiffanie G. Nutting and husband Craig, and great-grandchildren Colby and Tayler Nutting of Tallahassee, also survive him, as do his sister, Mary Frances Young, of Sparta, Tennessee, and his sister-in-law, Charlotte Zimmerman, of Minneapolis, Minnesota. He is also survived by many life-long, loving friends. His daughter Deborah Cantrell Bowers preceded him in death.

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Published in Tallahassee Democrat from June 3 to June 5, 2011
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