Reader remembers a good friend in Ben Crane of Selma

Published 12:00 am Thursday, February 28, 2008

Dear editor,

Shortly before Christmas of last year, Selma lost one of its most distinguished and noble citizens with the death of Ben Crane.

Ben was a friend of mine. We had known each other since our early years in grammar school and pee-wee football. We were in the same Boy Scout troop and were also fraternity brothers at the University of Alabama. Regrettably, I lost touch with Ben and his lovely wife, Artis, after they left the university. My own life and personal circumstances seemed to requir full attention back then. I did indirectly follow his fine military career and was aware he had retired after completing his service and had gone on to be most successful in the business arena.

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After some 70 years of life and with more years behind me than are in front, I have had the occasion to have met many people both good and bad. Ben Crane was one of the &8220;good guys.&8221; Indeed, I found him to be one of the greatest individuals and the personalities that I met in my lifetime.

Ben was a superb athlete. From early childhood, he was always a leader in all of the YMCA youth programs. Back then, if you were lucky enough to be on his team, you were assured of winning the championship because Ben was a natural born competitor and winner. Everything he did, he did well. To be more specific, we were on a Boy Scout Jamboree, and our troop was competing in a variety of activities with about 10 other troops from other cities. It was discovered that our troop did not have anyone who knew or could enter the signal corps competition (a system where two people communicate with each other at a great distance by the use of two hand-held flags, etc.). We were near the end of the &8220;Events Competition&8221; and needed points to win the overall Jamboree trophy. Withought an entry, we would get no points, and would lose. With an entry and a good showing, we could possibly win it. Ben volunteered to be our entry. Within a span of no more than 30 minutes, Ben learned the whole signal corps alphabet and various other falg commands, entered the competition and won it! What a feat from this future Eagle Scout!

In high school, Ben was &8220;Mr. Everything.&8221; His intelligence in the classroom was evident by the many honors he received. His excellence on the fields of athletic play earned him All-State honors. All of his achievements were accomplished in an unassuming manner and without being boastful. Ben was not one to seek rewards, applause or decorations. His modest nature was by choice and inclination.

Having said all of that, I am quick to add that the many honors and awards which he accumulated in his life were not, in my view, the essence of Ben Crane&8217;s greatness. Ben was honest to his moral beliefs and had an innerstrength from his faith as he tackled life&8217;s challenges. He was a champion and a gentleman and will be remembered, I believe, for the honesty and integrity in which he conducted his life and with the people he met and influenced. Ben Crane will forever be my hero.

I am certain I speak for all those who knew him, when I say that Ben Crane will be deeply missed and remembered. But we are the lucky ones for having known this special man and having learned from him.

With this salute, I extend with all respect my love, condolences and best wishes to Artis and her lovely family.

Robert E. Moorer