Our beloved Colonel Richard Wallace Crandall passed away on Easter Sunday, April 9, 2023, surrounded by his loving children. Rich was a dear friend to all who knew him and spent his life in the service of his God, his country, and of anyone he found in need. Engraved on his and his sweetheart’s headstone is the verse Matthew 25:39-40: “In as much as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me”.
Rich was born in Twin Falls, Idaho on April 15, 1939, the year WWII began. He loved his parents dearly and was especially close to his mother. He was the sixth out of ten total children. The many fond memories he had of his childhood adventures with his siblings have been recorded in his life history for his posterity. He attended Twin Falls schools until 1957 when he left for Brigham Young University (BYU). He attended there until 1960 when he was called to serve a two-year mission in Ohio and Indiana for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. In a perfect timing of events, “the love of his life”, Marilee June Forsha, had to stay in Omaha during his mission to earn money for BYU. In Richard’s words, “she may have been long gone before I returned from my mission” had she not delayed her start to college. Richard proposed to Marilee in Sun Valley, ID and the two were married on June 12, 1964. They raised a beautiful and loving family over their 55 years together, ultimately bringing five children to this earth, 20 grandchildren, and 2 great-grandchildren.
In 1965, Rich was commissioned a 2nd lieutenant in the United States Air Force. He graduated in the top 10% of his AFROTC class and was offered a regular commission. He, Marilee, and their four-month-old son, Brett, headed for Del Rio, TX in October where Richard started pilot training. He graduated in February of 1967 and was assigned to Castle AFB, CA where he did specialized training in the KC-135 Stratotanker, the Air Force’s primary fueling aircraft. Three months later, Richard and family headed to his permanent assignment at Fairchild AFB in Washington where he spent 3-7 days at a time on duty at an alert facility at the end of the runway. In addition, Richard deployed three months each year to fly and refuel fighter jets in the Vietnam War. He completed 85 combat missions over a four-year period.
Richard temporarily left active duty in February 1971 and moved his family to Twin Falls, ID where he worked in the family business for a short period of time. He had to commute to Hill AFB monthly where he flew mostly the Lockheed T-33 jet trainer and performed as the Group Plans and Safety Officer. In 1982, his former reserve commander called from the Pentagon in Washington D.C and asked him if he would like to interview for a Plans Officer position. He got the job and was recalled to active duty by orders of President Ronald Reagan. The family packed up again and relocated to Oakton, VA. After four years, a unique opportunity came up for him to stay on active duty in Colorado Springs, CO and he took a position in both Air Force Space Command and North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD). He served in that position for six more years, managing the recall and activation of Air Force Reservists in both commands. While serving there, Rich was promoted to full Colonel in the US Air Force. He served another four years at Langley AFB VA where he completed his military career. All in all, he served a total of 36 years in the military, 15 of those years he spent in flying positions.
After retirement, Rich and Marilee moved to Provo, UT so they could be near family. In 1996, he was referred to interview with Dr. Ron Smart, the head of the aviation department at Utah Valley University (then called Utah Valley State College). The same year he studied and passed the written and flight exams to become a certified flight instructor. He was later promoted to Assistant Chair over Flight and Academic Training. Rich organized a three-ship aircraft formation to fly down University Avenue over the Freedom Festival Parade. He jumped at the chance because he loved flying in formation. Rich was also asked to coach the UVU flight team where he led them to their first ever National Intercollegiate Flight Team (NIFA) regional championship and coached them in the national championship held in Ohio. In 1997, Rich was asked to teach Aviation History to local and remote students, including high school students throughout central and southern Utah. He jumped at the chance and flew to multiple locations in Utah to take his students on introductory flights. Several of them joined the flight program and enjoyed successful careers in aviation. Rich kept in touch with many of his students throughout his life, as they adored him immensely. The highlight of Rich’s career was to arrange a speaking visit and flight for Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf, previous chief pilot for Lufthansa Airlines. They have enjoyed keeping in touch throughout the years. Rich retired from full-time teaching in 2011 but remained teaching part-time and organizing day camps as the opportunities allowed.
In 2001, Rich and Marilee lost their first-born son, Brett, in a car accident when he was only 35 years old. Brett was survived by his wife, Angelique, and their three young daughters. The pain of this loss was unimaginable, but Rich resiliently turned his grief into service, moving up the street from Angelique and his three granddaughters, where he resided for the rest of his life. He served his daughter-in-law and granddaughters tirelessly along with his neighbors. He was a constant and true member of the Slate Canyon 13th ward, serving in every possible way. Rich said of Brett’s death, “I have learned a great lesson in life. I have empathy for anyone who loses a loved one. I know the hurt and pain that goes along with the loss of a loved one. There is no cure in this life, except to follow the advice of our beloved prophet, President Gordon B. Hinkley. He said that the best thing to do if we are down or depressed is to get out and serve others.”
Rich’s most important accomplishment of his life was his marriage to Marilee. He was her rock, caring tirelessly for her throughout her life and the example of their deep love remains an example to all who knew them. Her passing in late 2019 was heartbreaking, but as he did in so many other instances of his life, he turned his grief into purpose and service. He became acquainted with veteran families who had lost spouses, parents, etc. in active duty. He met Jennie Taylor, widow of Army Major Brent Taylor, who introduced Rich to the “Follow the Flag” non-profit organization. Rich immensely enjoyed traveling with them, placing flags at funerals and other patriotic events. Rich will now receive the same flag ceremony that he helped organize for others.
Rich was his happiest when he was together with his family. They brought him the most joy and happiness of his earthly life. They loved to spend time together whether they were skiing at Sundance or the mountain ranges of Europe, going to Lake Powell, golfing or vacationing at family homes on the Silver Reef near St. George, UT or Duchesne, UT. Rich’s most prized possession was his unwavering testimony of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. He had an immense gratitude and love of the Savior, His grace and His resurrection. He knew that his family was sealed together forever, and he couldn’t imagine heaven without them.
Rich is survived by four of his five children: Angela Petersen (Clint), David (Courteney), Todd (Brooke), and Brandon (Jenny), as well as 20 beloved grandchildren and 2 great-grandchildren. He is also survived by two of his siblings; Mary Jane Johnson (Jim) and Ted Crandall (Janice).
Rich was preceded in death by his dear parents, Martin Oscar and Ella Crandall, his sweetheart Marilee, his first-born son Brett (Angelique), and seven of his ten siblings; Robert (Bob), Lentz, Maureen, Geraldine, LaWana, Ellis, and Elwin.
A viewing will be held on Friday, April 14, 2023, from 6 p.m.- 8 p.m. at Sundberg-Olpin Funeral Home – 495 State St. Orem, UT. Funeral services will be held Saturday, April 15, 2023, at 1:00 p.m. (prior viewing from 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.) at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints – 1315 East 900 South Provo, UT.
Services will be live-streamed at the following link: https://www.youtube.com/live/9hQZpqeaY9Y?feature=share.
Condolences may be expressed to the family on this page.
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