Ligonier man devoted to family and faith
For James E. McCracken of Ligonier, it was truly love at first sight when he saw Hazel Braden at a playground and knew that, one day, he was going to marry that girl.
It did not matter that James was only 11 years old and the pretty girl was only nine, he knew she was the one for him, said his son, J. Paul McCracken of Ligonier.
“He told everyone. He told his family, he told her family,” that they would be married, McCracken said.
It turned out he was right about that girl at the playground because they were married for 67 years, until her death in August 2017.
“It was a marriage made in heaven. Whenever they would ride in the car, they would hold hands. When they walked along the street, he walked on the outside,” McCracken said.
James E. McCracken 91, of Ligonier, died Sunday, June 30, 2019, at Ligonier Gardens, Ligonier.
He was born Jan. 16, 1928, in Latrobe, a son of the late William Paul and Margaret Huston McCracken. He grew up in Ligonier and graduated from Ligonier High School.
Mr. McCracken went to work for Bell Atlantic and was climbing utility poles at age 18. He worked for the former Bell Atlantic for 42 years, becoming an engineer for the telephone company. He worked for Bell in Latrobe, Ligonier, Greensburg and DuBois.
Such was the strength of their marriage that Mr. McCracken’s “hobby” was his devotion to his wife, “24 hours a day, seven days a week,” J. Paul McCracken said. “They were inseparable.”
Mr. McCracken also was “always, always very active in church,” his son said. He was a member of the Covenant Presbyterian Church and attended the Fort Palmer Presbyterian Church. He expected his children to mirror that devotion to faith.
“We had to be dead or in the process of dying,” not to go to church, J. Paul McCracken said.
Mr. McCracken was very active in the Free and Accepted Masons and was a past master of the Ligonier Lodge No. 331 Free and Accepted Masons, just like his father and his son. He was a 70-year member of the Ligonier Lodge. He also was a member of the Thomas B. Anderson Royal Arch Chapter No. 309 in Latrobe, the former Kendron Commandery No. 18 of Greensburg, and the Syria Shrine in Pittsburgh.
He was preceded in death by two brothers and survived by one brother, all of whom served in the military during World War II.
In addition to his son, he also is survived by two daughters, Judith A. Pierce, of Brockway and Joyce A. English of Murrells Inlet, S.C.; 10 grandchildren; 10 great-grandchildren; and a great-great-grandson.
Family and friends will be received from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. Wednesday at the J. Paul McCracken Funeral Chapel Inc., 144 E. Main St., Ligonier. A service to celebrate his life will be held at 11 a.m. Thursday in the Fort Palmer Presbyterian Church with George Umphlett Jr., officiating. Interment will follow in the Ligonier Valley Cemetery. Ligonier Lodge No. 331 Free and Accepted Masons will hold services at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday in the funeral chapel.
Joe Napsha is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Joe at 724-836-5252, [email protected] or via Twitter .