Heber/Overgaard mourns the loss of a true pioneer. Charlotte Ann Despain Crandell was born Sept. 11, 1926, in a one-room log cabin in Zeniff.
As the daughter of Mildred Hunt and Claude Despain, she grew up on a ranch, learning to ride, brand cattle, sew, cook, and garden along with her five brothers and four sisters. She loved her grandmother and spent many days with her learning the stories of days gone by. Charlotte became a wonderful storyteller as she learned, told and retold the adventures of her grandmother.
Charlotte’s childhood was short lived as she began to court and finally marry at the ripe old age of fifteen. She married her childhood sweetheart, Harold Jay Crandell. They were married for 75 years in 2017.
Both Jay and Charlotte attended school in Heber where they met and fell in love. Charlotte was thirteen and Jay was sixteen. That sounds young, but Jay owned his own logging truck when he was twelve and worked in the woods. Most of their courting was done in this old logging truck. Jay took Charlotte to her eighth-grade graduation.
Charlotte says, “Jay and I had been going together off and on for three years. Then one night, on the April Fool’s day 1939, we were setting in his truck out in front of the church under a big pine tree he asked me if I would like to go steady. I said that I would. He gave me a beautiful black petrified wood heart shaped bracelet and ring.”
Charlotte was only fifteen when they were married in the Mesa Temple. A few days later, they spent their honeymoon on a cattle drive from Dry Lake to Holbrook.
Shortly after they were married Jay, feeling his duty to his country, joined the Army and served his country for two years. At the time, Charlotte was pregnant with their first child. Charlotte waited faithfully and patiently back home keeping herself busy doing laundry for a boy’s ranch to earn money to buy a small home in Heber.
Jay and Charlotte had six children: Margaret Ann, Chester J., Claudia Elizabeth, Charlotte Yevet, Bobby and Mary Jane, who have all married and have children of their own. They had 71 grandchildren, 154 great-grandchildren and 24 great-great-grandchildren. That’s 249 total posterity to date.
Although Jay only finished high school and Charlotte eighth grade, they have teachers, college professors, law enforcement, doctors, tradesman, truckers, and military personnel to their credit. Both sons have preceded them in death, Bobby was instrumental in saving Bison Ranch in the Rodeo-Chediski fire and Chester was an Arizona Congressman.
Charlotte is famous for her quilts. For many years, Charlotte and her sisters made a handmade satin quilt for every couple who married in Heber and the surrounding area. She lost her eyesight to macular degeneration and her hearing to tinnitus, but she oversaw the making of a satin baby quilt for each of the great-grandbabies, which number in the hundreds. She was able to quilt a few stitches on one baby quilt this summer.
The yearly ritual of planting and harvesting a garden has a seventy-five year record. The rows are still as straight as the first garden. In her later years, Jay and Charlotte were not able to do much in the garden, but their children came to help. The garden was always a family project. Every year they preserved upwards of 1000 jars of produce. They gave most of it away, to family members and neighbors. Jay and Charlotte never had much of worldly goods but what they had they generously shared.
Cattle ranching was a big part of lives. They have always had a small herd of prize cattle which they have pastured through drought and flood. They have cared for them as if they were their own children.
Charlotte was a devout genealogist and loved working in the temple. Her genealogy days were in the days when it was hard. She wrote letters, visited graves, and read microfilm. She painstakingly recorded it by hand on long pedigree sheets.
Charlotte wrote 46 journals from 1974 to 2011. She didn’t use her journals as places to complain about the adversity of life, but a place to be grateful. At the end of every journal, she summed up her year with pages of gratitude for those who had helped her and for the blessings she had received from the Lord.
Charlotte was a magnificent woman who was truly a modern-day pioneer. She passed quietly in her sleep after a prolonged battle with dementia. She will leave an empty spot in our lives but has left a legacy of footprints that will be hard to follow.
A viewing will be held 9 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 12, at the Heber Chapel of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1860 AZ-260, Heber with the funeral services to follow at 10 a.m. Interment will follow in the Heber Cemetery.
Owens Livingston Mortuary of Show Low handled arrangements. For those who have special memories and would like to send private condolences or sign an online guest book, visit website www.owenslivingstonmortuary.com.