John (Jack) Raymond Crandall was born in Miami, Florida on November 14, 1938. He attended Presbyterian College in Clinton, SC where he met Betty Jane Crandall in 1959. He was not given permission to date her by her father Robert (Bob) Pickett Hamer until after caddying for Mr. Bob Hamer on the Lakeshore Golf course for MANY hours. They were married upon Jack’s completion of his masters in theology from Union Theological Seminary. Jack’s first church was in Chester, SC, where his oldest daughter Lea was born in 1964. In 1966 Jack moved his family to Fairmont, NC and became the pastor of Fairmont Presbyterian Church where his younger daughter Amy was born in December 1967.
Inspired by the events that took place in Selma, AL in 1965, especially the death of James Reeb a Unitarian Universalist minister and civil rights activist, Jack became an outspoken supporter of the American Civil Rights movement both in and outside of the pulpit. Supported by a few friends in Fairmont, Jack delivered the invocation from the steps of the Lumberton County Courthouse and led the peaceful demonstration and walk the day following the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King.
Jack’s views were neither accepted nor tolerated by the majority of the local community in Fairmont at that time. However, it has been shared with this author that in 2000, the Fairmont Presbyterian Church had an African American clerk of the session and a Native American pastor, a clear indication that Jack’s words and actions had a significant impact! People of color were not allowed into the sanctuary of the Fairmont Presbyterian Church during the 1960s – a sore point that drove a wedge between Jack and the church’s session (the church’s governing body).
In an effort to escape the danger and community distain and “shenannigans” elicited by his unpopular and vocal political views, Jack moved his family to Pendleton, SC in 1968 where he was received with grace, acceptance and “tolerance” of his liberal, non-violent views. Jack was the pastor of Pendleton Presbyterian Church for ten years before getting the call to move to his last pulpit at the North Anderson Community Church Presbyterian in Anderson, SC. It was here that Jack felt truly free to speak his truth – a truth that he felt deeply committed to. Jack’s sermons, community activities and actions reflected what Jack felt Jesus Christ would have done, most of his life.
In 1994, Jack received the dreaded diagnosis of renal cell carcinoma. His faith, the love of his family, his beloved North Anderson Community Presbyterian congregation and Pendleton Presbyterian congregation, friends on both sides of the political spectrum representing nearly every demographic sustained him though a brutal, 3 year long battle with cancer to which he finally succumbed in May 1997.
Jack, we love you for you had “mass appeal”. As your daughter my heart is so full of gratitude for you, for your life and work that it is spilling out of my eyes as I type. We love you, we miss you and we all hope you are up there in heaven, hanging out on a sailboat that “cleans itself” with Barley and your friends, enjoying your pipe and your beer on smooth seas, warm winds and beautiful sunsets.
The Jack Crandall family loves to hear your thoughts. Use our Contact Us page to tell us what we’re doing right or what we can improve on.