In memoriam: Jack Cranford, emeritus associate professor of biological sciences
Jack Allen Cranford, emeritus associate professor of biological sciences in the Virginia Tech College of Science, died Aug. 29. He was 83.
Cranford was internationally known for his research in the field of ecology of small mammals and published more than 50 peer-reviewed journal articles in the field. He served as chair or member of multiple committees for the Virginia Academy of Science and the American Society of Mammalogists.
Cranford joined the Virginia Tech community in 1977 after earning bachelor’s and master’s degrees from San Francisco State University and a Ph.D. from the University of Utah. A U.S. Air Force veteran, in retirement he served as a coxswain in the U.S. Coast Guard and as a commander in the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary.
As assistant and associate head for advising in the Department of Biological Sciences from 2002-08, Cranford’s leadership of the program resulted in the department being named a University Exemplary Department for Advising. He also received the biology department’s Most Influential Professor Award by the Class of 2004, the University Alumni Undergraduate Advising Award in 2004, and the National Academic Advising Association Faculty Academic Advising Award in 2005.
“He was a larger-than-life character who contributed a unique level of energy and personality to our faculty,” said Brenda Winkel, professor and former department head of biological sciences. “His research focused on small mammal ecology, including wildlife management, and he became the standard-bearer for our undergraduate mammalogy course over his 31-year tenure at Virginia Tech. Jack introduced countless undergraduates from across the campus to fieldwork, from catching all manner of critters in live traps to learning the nuances of scat identification, in the process fostering critical new awareness of and appreciation for wildlife ecology.”
He retired in 2008 and moved with his wife, Deborah, to the Virginia shore.
In addition to his wife, he is survived by three children, William “Taft” Durr II, Johnathan “Matthew” Durr, and Ashley Claire Rodeheaver; five grandchildren; and numerous other family members and friends.
A Celebration of Life service was held Sept. 8 and included military honors with bagpipes.