Marynelle Crawford, proud U.S. Marine Corps veteran and loving great grandmother, grandmother, and mother passed away on Wednesday, May 16 at age 95. Just a few short weeks after celebrating her 95th birthday, she died peacefully in the warm embrace of family and friends. Surrounded by love and adoration, it was a fitting farewell for a woman who gave so much and asked for so little.
A longtime resident of Presbyterian Village, Marynelle was well known for her radiant smile, love of animals and devotion to family. Anyone who walked into her room – adorned with animal posters, cheery flowers, family photos and Marine Corps memorabilia, clearly saw what she cherished most.
Among her many unique attributes, she couldn’t go a day without taking a long walk around her private care unit. Intrigued by her walking routine, the staff monitored her steps with a pedometer and found that she walked one to three thousand steps on a daily basis. Remarkable indeed, but for those who know her well, this impressive display of strength is just classic Marynelle Crawford. A survivor of the Great Depression, she endured unimaginable hardships throughout her childhood. Even until her death, she never took even the smallest creature comfort – milk especially – for granted. She lived frugally and enjoyed life’s simple pleasures.
Born on May 4, 1917 in Bryant, Arkansas, Marynelle, affectionately nicknamed "Bobbie,” was the only child of Ambrose and Lofie Thompson. She was the granddaughter of John Wesley Prickett, owner of the Prickett Dairy in Bryant. She spent most of her childhood in Little Rock, where she graduated from Central High School with honors.
After high school she received secretarial training and worked for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers until she and her best girlfriend joined the U.S. Marine Corps Women's Reserve after the start of World War II. She was assigned an office staff position at Marine Corps Headquarters in Quantico, Va. Among her many important duties, she provided clerical support for the Manhattan Project. Proud to serve her country, she quickly worked her way up through the ranks and was promoted to corporal, not an easy task for a woman Marine back in the World War II era.
In her later years, she was fond of saying she had the equivalent of a college degree in military records. During her enlistment, she fell in love with Sgt. Donald Hughes Crawford, the boss of her best girlfriend. Shortly thereafter, they married in a quiet ceremony in 1944. Resplendent in their Marine Corps uniforms, their wedding was intimate and understated. But even if she had all the money in the world, she wouldn’t have had it any other way.
As the wife of a career Marine, she lived in various states all over the country until 1962, when Donald’s last orders before retirement assigned him to the Camp Pendleton Marine Base. In 1964 they retired to their last home together in Carlsbad, California, where they raised their daughter, Nancy Crawford. During their time in California, they spent many happy years along the Pacific coast with their only child and beloved dogs, Freddie and Sandy. Marynelle enjoyed collecting porcelain bells, Norman Rockwell figurines and watching Billy Graham sermons.
After losing her beloved husband in 1990, she continued to live in Carlsbad and in 1994 invited her granddaughter, Laura, to move in with her. They lived together until 2002 when Laura moved to the UK and Marynelle returned to Little Rock to live out her remaining years near family. She was a supportive grandmother to Laura and Jessica, supporting them through college and early adulthood and they in return helped her through many of the transitions and challenges faced when growing old. The pain of her husband’s death never seemed to waver, no matter how much time had passed. She took comfort in knowing that his grave was only a few miles away.
One of the few remaining descendents of the Prickett Family, she often laughed about how “Little Bobbie" ended up as the matriarch of the once expansive family. Her lifelong love of milk was steeped in nostalgic memories of her family’s long-running dairy farm, which provided home deliveries of fresh milk in glass bottles. Healthy, happy and strong for almost a century, she is proof that milk does indeed do a body good.
Another hallmark of Marynelle’s endearing personality was her infectious smile. She had an amazing light that was palpable when she smiled. Her perpetual cheerful demeanor filled hearts with warmth and comfort. Described by those who knew her as a humble woman with a stubborn streak that she imparted to her daughter and grandchildren, Marynelle was a woman of extraordinary strenth and humility. She will be long remembered for her devotion to Christianity, her country and the Republican Party. She is loved and dearly missed by all who were fortunate to know her.
She is survived by her great-granddaughters, Ruby and Madeline Morton; two grandchildren, Laura (Tom Morton) and Jessica (Jarred Sinn); and her daughter Nancy Crawford.
Visitation will be Sunday, May 20 from 5-7 p.m. at Little Rock Funeral Home, 8801 Knoedl Ct. (NW corner I-630 and Barrow Rd.). Graveside services will be Monday, May 21 at 10:00 a.m. at the Little Rock National Cemetery, officiated by Dr. Bob Dunaway.
Arrangements by Little Rock Funeral Home, (501)224-2200. Mrs. Crawford’s online guestbook may be signed at www.littlerockfuneralhome.com.