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William Cann

William Cann Obituary
Mulhearn Funeral Home
Sterlington Road, Monroe

Funeral services for Lieutenant Colonel William Derwood Cann, Jr. will be held at 12:00 Noon, Thursday, July 15, 2010 at Grace Episcopal Church of Monroe with the Rev. Gregg Riley officiating. Interment will follow at Mulhearn Memorial Park Cemetery under the direction of Mulhearn Funeral Home, Sterlington Road, Monroe.
Lieutenant Colonel William Derwood Cann, Jr., a World War II commander who went on to become a college professor, mayor, and leading manufacturing executive, died Monday, July 12, 2010 at Saint Francis Medical Center in Monroe. He was 90 years old and resided in Monroe, Louisiana since 1954.
Upon his resignation from the Regular US Army in 1956, he accepted a Commission in the US Army Reserve as a Lieutenant Colonel. That same year, he became a vice present of Bancroft Bag, Inc., the single largest diversified multiwall bag plant in the United States based in West Monroe, Louisiana. He served with Bancroft until his death as a senior vice president, director and shareholder.
William Derwood Cann, Jr. was born September 12, 1919 in Corey, Louisiana - Esperance Plantation near Monroe. He attended Ouachita Parish High School (1933-37), Ouachita Parish Junior College (1937-38) and Louisiana State University (1938-42).
He joined the Louisiana National Guard at the age of 17 attaining the rank of Corporal, Co. G, 156th Infantry and later at Louisiana State University he was the Cadet Captain, Corps of Cadets. In June 1942, he was commissioned a Second Lieutenant from ROTC, Louisiana State University. His military career was meteoric. He quickly became a paratrooper and rose to the rank of Unit Commander and Staff Officer, 506 Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division (1943-45). He served Overseas, European Theater of Operations, World War II, 101st Airborne Division (1943-46) and later as Commander, Co. G., 505 Parachute Infantry Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division (1946), participating in the campaigns of Normandy, Rhineland, Ardennes (Battle of Bastogne, Belgium), Central Europe and the Army of Occupation-Germany, Austria.
His postwar assignments advanced him characteristically swiftly, and by 1946 he had become Aide de Camp to Major General James M. Gavin, 82nd Airborne Division. He was an articulate, even zealous supporter of a tough military force modified to mobile warfare. Following his service with General Gavin, he was Executive Officer, 555th Parachute Infantry Battalion (1949), Appointed US Regular Army (March 1949), Advanced Infantry Course, The Infantry School, Fort Benning, Georgia (1949), Instructor, Command and Staff Department, The Armored School, Fort Knox, Kentucky (1949-1952), Staff Officer and Field Advisor (28th Turkish Infantry Division), Joint Army Mission for Aid to Turkey, Ankara, Turkey - Training Officer for Turkish Brigades going to Korea (1952-54) and Head of Military Department (Professor of Military Science & Tactics), Northeast Louisiana University (1954-56).
Lieutenant Colonel Cann's decorations for wartime service included the Bronze Star Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster, Purple Heart Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster, Combat Infantry Badge, Master Parachutist Badge, Presidential Unit Citation, French, Belgium and Netherlands Fourrage'res, Germany Occupation Medal, World War II Victory Medal along with other foreign medals.
Lieutenant Colonel Cann was a member of the Louisiana State Board of Commerce and Industry (1964-1972), member of the City of Monroe School Board (1968-1972), Mayor (Appointed), City of Monroe (October 1978 - April 1979) and member of the Monroe-West Monroe (Ouachita Parish) Public Trust Financing Authority (1979).
He served on the Board of Directors of the YMCA, President; American Red Cross, Chairman; Society for Aid to Crippled Children; March of Dimes, Campaign Chairman; United Giver's Fund, Campaign Chairman; Alexander Graham Bell Association for the Deaf; Industrial Development Committee, West Monroe, LA; Chamber of Commerce, West Monroe, LA; Ouachita Valley Council, Boy Scouts of America, President; Chamber of Commerce, Monroe, LA., President; Little Theater, Chairman Building Fund Campaign, 1987; Public Affairs Research Council, Trustee; Junior Division Advisory Board, Louisiana State University; Man of the Year Award, Salvation Army, 1978; Ouachita Enterprise Corporation, 1991-1996; Member, The News Star Newspaper Editorial Board, 1992 and Paul Harris Fellow Award, Rotary Club of Monroe, 1993.
Lieutenant Colonel Cann was a member of Kappa Alpha Order, Alpha Gamma Chapter; Bayou DeSiard Country Club, Board of Directors (1968-71, 1979-82, President - 1981-82); 101st Airborne Division Association, Charter Member; Reserve Officer's Association; Retired Officer's Association; Military Order of World Wars and the American Order of French Croix de Guerre.
As a member of Grace Episcopal Church of Monroe, LA, Lieutenant Colonel Cann served as a member of the Vestry for three terms and its Senior Warden from 1987-1988.
Lieutenant Colonel Cann is survived by his wife, the former Arabella Bancroft; two daughters, Vada Montgomery (Eugene) and Arabella Cann of Monroe; one son, Dr. Thomas Nash (Rebecca) of Baton Rouge; three grandchildren, Arabella Moore, Caroline Plaisance and Lauren Nash of Baton Rouge; two sisters, Sara Cane of Baton Rouge and Lodi Kysor of Virginia; and numerous nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his parents, William Derwood Cann, Sr. and Lodi DeSeay Cann; and two brothers, Frederick Allen Cann and Clinton McGee.
Visitation will be from 10:30 AM until service time Thursday at Kilbourne Hall, Grace Episcopal Church of Monroe.
A US Army Honor Guard from Fort Polk will serve as pallbearers.
Honorary pallbearers will be J. B. Landry, Mark Anderson, Dr. Ralph B. King, Lovell E. Hayden, III, James W. Moore, Jr., Aylmer E. Montgomery, Jr., Dr. M. A. Bodron, Judge Donald E. Walter, Benjamin F. Marshall, III and W. L. Carbrey.
The family requests memorials be made to the Lieutenant Colonel William Derwood Cann, Jr. ROTC Scholarship Fund, in care of, The ULM Foundation, 700 University Avenue, Monroe, LA 71209 or the Grace Episcopal Church Memorial Fund, 405 Glenmar Avenue, Monroe, LA 71201.
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Published in The News Star on July 14, 2010
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