Submitted by:TDFuneral Services for J.R. Croley who passed away Friday August 28, 2009 at the age of 87 years 4 months and 21 days will be Tuesday September 1, 2009 at 10:00 a.m. in the Calvary Baptist Church in Durant, Oklahoma. Internment will follow at the Highland Cemetery also in Durant. Family Hour will be from 6-7 P.m. Monday August 31, 2009 at the Coffey~Murray Funeral Home.
James Riley Croley was born on April 7, 1922 in Silo, OK to Sam and Anna (Shellnut) Croley. He was the sixth of eight children and the first son. The family tells that with five older sisters they tried to give him several names. They finally settled on James Riley Thomas Jr. Croley, but it was shortened to J.R. In 1942, while working in an aircraft plant in Seattle, WA, J.R. was drafted into the army. His younger brother Sam D. joined so they could serve together. They were promised assignments together, but that didn't work out. J.R. served in the African and European Theater in World War II as an armored reconnaissance crewman. He landed in Normandy three days after D-Day. During his time in the army he fought in six campaigns-Sicily, Normandy, Northern France, Rhineland, Central Europe, and Ardennes. He received 6 bronze stars, Croix de Guerre medal, and the WWII victory medal. He served nearly three years in the Army and never received a scratch.
J.R. married Helen R. Hiberd on Oct. 25, 1948 in Sherman, TX. She preceded him in death on Oct. 14, 1987. He was also preceded in death by his five sisters, Unavay Burke, Laura Slaten, Beulah Peoples, Wilma Burnell, and Lucy Hayes; brother Sam D. Croley, and two nephews Delbert Burke and Howard Slaten.
He was a long time member of Calvary Baptist Church and especially enjoyed the fellowship of his Sunday School Class. J.R. loved to play dominos and could be found most afternoons sitting under a shade tree until his illness prevented it. He was a member of McDonald's coffee club and MCSO's lunch group every day until the last month of his life. He treasured the friendships he made there as well as those at Choctaw Wellness Center. J.R. was also a longtime member of the American Legion.
Survivors include daughter Pat Burkhalter, granddaughter and family Ginger, Paul, Tyler, and Alyssa Lynch, grandson and family Chris Burkhalter, Shana, Scotty, and Aydriana all of Durant, OK, sister Lillie Atkinson of Sherman, TX, close friend Thomas Phipps of Durant, OK , and numerous nieces, nephews, extended family and friends.
Serving as Pallbearers will be nephews, Wendell Peoples, Dale Ballard, Bill Hayes, Ronnie Hayes, Tom Atkinson, Wesley Morgan, and Tracy and David Herron. Honorary pallbearers are lifelong friends Don Herron, Thomas Phipps, Royce Newell, and A.G. Alexander and the McDonald’s Coffee Club.
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