Donald L. McCracken, of Centerburg, Ohio, was born in Mt. Vernon, Ohio, on December 17, 1938, to Harry McCracken and Mabel Hupp McCracken. He graduated from Centerburg High School in 1956 and played both football and basketball in his high school days. He married his first wife, Kathleen Barrick on March 3, 1957.
Shortly after graduation, he completed two years of accounting training at La Salle University. Thereafter he joined the United States Air Force, having basic training at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas. He spent time at Kunsan Air Base in Korea for 13 months just after the war as an air traffic controller, which he learned in tech school through the Air Force in Biloxi, Mississippi. After his Air Force duty ended in 1960, he became an Air Traffic Controller in several cities before returning to Ohio, and he spent 35 years at John Glenn International Airport as the Supervisor. He also was a tax preparer with his own business, Heart of Ohio Tax Service, with fellow classmate Jack Compton for many years.
When his children were small, he enjoyed golfing, bowling, and camping in between his many jobs. After Kathleen passed away in 2005, he married Candy Hendrickson on May 29, 2006, and enjoyed the past nearly 18 years of happy marriage together. Both retired, they enjoyed many wonderful travels through 7 countries in Europe and were members of the local Young at Heart Club, where they enjoyed bus trips to many states and cities throughout the country. Those trips were organized by their good friends, the late John and Judy McDavid. They made many new friends on every trip.
Don served on many boards in his career, including the Centerburg Board of Education, from 1972 to 1986, where he was able to present diplomas to all three of his children when he served. He also served his community in other ways for 20-plus years in many different roles. He served on the Central Ohio Joint Fire District Board and was a long-time trustee for Hilliar Township, during which the new firehouse was built. As a trustee, he was “Hands-on”, often stopping traffic or driving the roller on road repairs, overseeing grave openings and closings and maintaining the three cemeteries in the township, and helping lay underground electric and building a new shelter house in Memorial Park, which the township also maintains.
During that time, he was President of the Knox County Trustees and Clerks Association as well. Don served on the Consolidated Electric Board and Ohio Rural Electric Board for nearly 30 years. He spent nine years on the Board of Federated Insurance, which serves nationally to provide insurance to all of the United States. The annual meetings brought he and Candy to many great cities, including Seattle, Anaheim, New Orleans, and Jackson Hole, where he proposed to Candy before the entire board and associates! Don also served as President of the Heart of Ohio USA Days Festival Association.
It should be noted that Don served as Chairman on every board he served on and did a wonderful job for each of them. He was known for his favorite saying, “My way or the highway”! Don was honored by being chosen as the Grand Marshall of both the USA Days and the Oldtime Farming Festival parades. Ask any member of any board, and they will tell you Don was the best at what he did! Ask any member of his family, and they can tell you he was one STUBBORN man!
Don is a member of the United Methodist Church of Centerburg and the Mt. Zion Masonic Lodge, where he was a Past Master and a 32nd Degree.
Don was preceded in death by his father, Harry “Cap” McCracken; his mother Mabel Patrick, and his stepfather Charles Patrick; father-in-law Russell Hendrickson; first wife, Kathleen McCracken; sister Doris Ann and brother-in-law Gene Keel; brothers Steven and William Patrick; brother-in-law Murray Hendrickson; and numerous aunts, uncles and cousins. And finally, by his faithful Yorkie, Heidi, who will be buried with him as he wished.
Don had a large family and is survived by his loving wife, Candy; mother-in-law Jean Hendrickson; son Jeff (Jane) McCracken of Morgantown WV; daughters, Lisa (Robert) Howard of Orlando, FL, and Karen McCracken of Sunbury; stepdaughter Diana (Tracy) Payne; stepsons Rick (Laura) Shultz, Justin (Erin) O’Riley, Josh (Becky) Clarke, and Jeremy Dick, all in the local area.
Grandchildren, Misty (Chris) Paquet and RJ Howard of Orlando, FL; Max (Amy) McCracken of Morgantown, WV; Jake, Kevin and Grayson Payne; Nevaeh O’Riley; Alexandra, Mina and Vivi Dick; and Shelly and Cameron Clarke, of the local area. Great-grandchildren, Kyland Dunson of Orlando, FL, and Avery and Koen McCracken of Morgantown, WV.
Brothers, David (Linda) and Mike (Brian Wolfe) Patrick; brother-in-law Jan (Sonja) Hendrickson and sister-in-law Holly (Greg) Chadwick. Nieces, Julie (Jack) Alcott, Jeanne (Anthony) Joseph, Joe (Susan) Keel and John (Julie) Keel, and Don’s close friends Gary Ross, Jim Casner, Jack Oney, Larry Roof, Bob Newton, and many other family and friends.
In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made in his memory to help the Friends of the Park build an amazing new playground and add a bench in Don’s honor for his contribution to the park as a trustee over the 20 years by donating through this website: https://gofund.me/791eedff. Don took great pride in the park and was a meticulous steward for the care of it so this is a wonderful lasting memorial to his memory, and there will be a plaque on the bench with his name. Anything over the $2,500 cost will go into the new playground general fund. If you prefer, you can also donate to the Centerburg Alumni Association Scholarship Fund in memory of his many years of dedication to the Centerburg Local Schools.
Calling hours will be held Thursday, November 2, from 2 to 4 and 6 to 8, with a Masonic service at 4 p.m., at the Snyder Devore Funeral Chapel at 637 Ohio St. Rt. 61 in Sunbury, Ohio. Calling hours will also be held at 11 a.m. on Friday, November 3, with the funeral service at noon also at Snyder Devore. Rev. and classmate of Don’s, Lucian (Elmer) Ball will deliver the eulogy.
The theme is for the McCracken family’s favorite team, the Ohio State Buckeyes. Feel free to dress in your favorite buckeye attire to celebrate Don’s life! The service will begin with “Carmen Ohio”. The obituary will be read. The cousin of Don’s wife, Tammy Archer, will be singing a Patsy Cline’s “Crazy” for Don, it being one of his favorites. The eulogy will then be delivered by Mr. Ball, followed by another song selected by his children, “Silver Wings”, also sung by Mrs. Archer.
Friends will be asked to share their memories of Don, including the funny ones! At the close, everyone will join in singing “Hang on Sloopy”. Upon exiting, each mourner will place a Buckeye sticker on his gray coffin. There will be buckeyes from the tree on Don’s property for each person to take home as a token of Don’s memory. The procession will then proceed to Eastview Cemetery in Centerburg for burial. A bagpiper will play “Amazing Grace” per Don’s adamant wishes. He is Scottish, after all! There will be a military ceremony, including the folding and presentation of the flag and the 21-gun salute. Following the internment, guests should gather at Eggman’s Eatery for refreshments and to share stories. It is located in the clubhouse of Wyandot Golf Course at 3032 Columbus Road very near Don’s home.
Celebrating Lives: Obituaries on Knox Pages are brought to you by Knox Community Hospital.