Carl Edward Creswell
Ned Creswell, also known as Carl Edward to the bureaucracy, and Father Creswell and Lieutenant Colonel Creswell to other audiences, has completed his journey. He began it with his brothers Claude and George (later joined by Ric) in Toledo OH on October 6, 1934, and died September 5, 2020, in Wichita KS. The Creswell boys were brilliant and memorable, and now they have all passed from this Earth. Not to worry: their progeny are spread across the land.
Their parents, George Tonson Creswell and Ruth Nedra Dolores Lorraine Applegate, gave them each other and tremendous intellect. Ruth also gave the boys a love of music, reading, and current events. Otherwise, the boys raised each other.
Ned wasn’t a good student, but he was an avid reader. After scraping through high school, he got a job at a foundry. After a few weeks of work that hot summer, he remembered that Central Michigan’s track coach had offered him a scholarship at the state track meet. He hitchhiked to the college and the coach, caught off-guard by his unexpected appearance, lined up a place for him to live while he took a semester of classes. That same spirit led him to Army Basic Training and tours in post-WWII Austria and Germany.
He later attended college at Kansas Wesleyan (Salina, KS), drawn back to St Francis Boys’ Home where the Creswell boys spent some of their formative years. While there, he met Dorothy June McWilliams. They married in 1959 and moved to Michigan and Ohio. Ned and June’s children are Valerie (Dan Davis), Geoff (Andra), Sylvia, and Andrea Hattendorf (Doug). Ned completed his Bachelor of Arts at Central Michigan, followed by a Masters of Divinity at Bexley Hall, Kenyon College, and became an Army Chaplain. He began his priesthood at Christ Church, Dayton OH.
After a stint at Ft. Hood, TX, he served as a chaplain with the AmeriCal Division in Vietnam in 1968: yes, his unit committed the My Lai massacre. Buck Thompson, who landed his chopper between the soldiers and civilians with his gunner’s sights trained on the soldiers, reportedly said, ‘Padre, you’re not going to believe what happened.’ Ned testified at 1LT Calley and CPT Medina’s court-martials.
Ned’s sister-in-law, Carol (Claude’s wife), believes that Kris Kristofferson was inspired by Ned as he wrote “The Pilgrim, Chapter 33” in 1971. The men crossed paths in the strange ways of Army and activism.
Ned and family moved to Emporia, KS, in 1969 to serve at St Andrew’s Episcopal Church. Two years later, the marriage ended. He married Mary Hose. Ned, Mary, and their daughter, Laura, settled in Lubbock TX, where Ned earned a JD at Texas Tech. When the marriage ended, Ned moved to Amarillo, where he found AA and Cynthia. At age 50, Ned began to build a good and decent life. He worked as a counselor for addicts for many years, and his guidance helped many others, especially veterans, get sober themselves. He also served as a mission priest at St John the Baptist in Clarendon TX. He and Cynthia had 30 strong, sober, and happy years before she died of cancer in 2015. Cynthia’s daughter, Penny, was a particular joy to Ned.
Ned was a man of strong opinions, great charisma, and simple pleasures: music, books, cigars, and a dog. His motto was: Suit up, Show up, Shut up when you absolutely have to. Don’t screw up what God puts on your plate on a daily basis, and never hurt anyone unintentionally. (That last word is pretty important if you are going to be an inconvenient person around inconvenient people your whole life.)
He was well-loved and will be long remembered by his children, bonus children, Penny Massey, Ann (Craig) George, Bill Patterson, grandchildren Zane ( Bridget ) Rohlman, Jay Rohlman, Cara (Joseph )Loomis, Ava Davis, Andra’s son, John, Bob (Tara )Garven, Tom Garven, Stella Hattendorf, Ruth Creswell, Shelby (Katt) Massey, great-grandchildren, nephews and nieces, other family and friends, and a poorly behaved dog.
His memorial service will be at St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, Amarillo, Texas, and his internment at Llano Cemetery on October 9, 2021.
In lieu of flowers, the family suggests memorials be to The Humane Society.