Annie Bell Crane, known affectionately as Annie B., Aunt Bell, Ms. Bell, granny, Mom, Mama Mother Crane, MeMa, and Memo, was born in Calvert, Texas on May 30, 1927 to Jerry Neal and Rosie Ann Williams, the 11th of 12 children. Annie Bell received her elementary and secondary education in the Calvert school system. Years later, while raising her children, she pursued further schooling, receiving certificates in Home Beautification and Agribusiness Management through the Texas Agricultural Extension Program of Texas A&M University.
Annie Bell surrendered her life to Christ at a young age and graced this earth with kindness, love, and an unwavering faith in her Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. She radiated a blessed assurance that there was no problem too big for God and she lived a life that demonstrated her trust in Him. Her well-worn Bibles and the many lovely crosses dangling from her neck told the story of who and whose she was. She walked and talked with her Lord every day and lived a life that sought to please Him. She had complete confidence in her distinction as a child of the King.
Annie Bell had a servant’s heart. She worked outside of the home as an administrator at the Community Action Corporation where she increased awareness about governmental services and assisted local residents in filing for social security and medical benefits. She also volunteered for Grace Outreach, a ministry that provides food, financial assistance, and other necessities for families and individuals in crisis. Annie Bell was a faithful member of Providence Baptist Church for more than six decades where she led Sunday School and served as the president of the Women’s Mission Society. And we have all been blessed, moved to tears, and taken to the throne of Jesus through her powerful testimony of song.
Annie Bell loved people and cared deeply for the welfare of others. She shared the love of Christ with anyone who crossed her path. Her love was visible in the smiling faces that covered every square inch of her living room walls and the daily phone calls with her children, neighbors, and friends. Mom’s biological children didn’t mind sharing her. Over the years, while raising her own six children, she lovingly mothered a host of others and made her home a welcoming safe haven.
Mom’s joy brimmed to overflowing as she anticipated special time with loved ones at the annual family reunion where she fervently appealed to the family to commit to continually love and support one another. She was also responsible for bringing the most important “edible guest” to the reunion—the peach cobbler! One taste of that lip-smacking cobbler was never quite enough. How Mom could consistently create such flaky, sweet, peachy goodness was quite amazing. The cobbler will be missed because we know how much love Mom poured into it. If there is dessert in heaven, it will definitely be Mom’s peach cobbler.
Mom didn’t believe in lounging around the house. Always elegant from head to toe, mom was up and dressed as soon as her feet hit the floor, complete with hair and makeup and a splash of Estee Lauder’s, Youth Dew even when she didn’t have anywhere to go. We loved Mom’s healthy sense of humor, quick wit, infectious laugh, and her wise life maxims. Mom took care of business and didn’t shy away from expressing her opinions and providing sage advice that we needed to hear.
There is no more powerful tribute to Mom than the life she lived. What a precious gift she was to the world! When her eyes turned toward heaven to rest from her labors and enter her heavenly home, we know that Mom was ready. We rejoice in knowing Mom is at the feet of Jesus singing and shouting, “Thank you sir!”
Annie Bell was preceded in death by her parents, Jerry Neal and Rosie Ann Williams, daughter, Selita McLeod, and 10 brothers (Leroy, Frank, Mose, Willie Neal, H.B., Ben Lee, Jeff) and sisters (Edna, Prince, Minnie). Left to cherish, honor, and celebrate her legacy are her three sons: Robert (Judy) Jones, Burkburnett, TX; Grayland (Sherry) Jones, Fremont, CA; Rickie (Donna) Harris, Minneapolis, MN; two daughters, Brinda (Allen), Wichita Falls, TX; Victoria (John) Booker, Burkburnett, TX; 23 grandchildren; 31 great grandchildren; 23 great great grandchildren; and a host of nieces, nephews, cousins, and lifelong friends.
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