Ann was a tremendous student. She graduated from East High School, David Lipscomb College and then obtained her Masters from Peabody College that later merged into Vanderbilt. Surely it was her love for learning that led her to be such a tremendous teacher. Her first teaching job was in Harlem, KY and over the next 40 years she taught in Lipscomb, Lockland, Houston, Texas, and Goodlettsville. Not only did she teach in schools, but also in Bible classes. Many of you reading this have been taught by her or someone in your family has been.
Ann was independent. She remained single until her early forties. Her family use to say during this time, “If Ann ever does marry it would have to be a preacher” referring to her huge heart for ministry. At 42 years of age she married a preacher. Ed Craddock had never been married either. Ed Craddock preached at Grace Avenue which was where her mother introduced Ann and Ed. Ed was her senior by 20 years, but they still enjoyed 22 years of marriage before his passing in the early ’90s. Ann passed away at 87 years of age having lived all but 22 years of her life single or widowed. But whether married or single, Ann always served others. Her siblings said, “She began taking care of us when she was young and just never quit taking care of people.” She was on the go everyday taking Bible Correspond-ence courses to the mail or sitting with a family during surgery or visiting a shut-in or checking on someone in need. She would stop by the building to work on a Bible class lesson or a class room or to attend Tuesday morning Ladies class each week. In the last few months of her life, she might be confused about many things, but she never seemed to forget that Sunday was worship and Tuesday was Ladies Class.
Not only was Ann a talented teacher and well instructed in scripture, but she also was a tremendous singer. As a young woman she sang in a female barbershop quartet that sang all over Nashville. The family has one newspaper clipping of when they sang before a crowd of 10,000. Her beautiful alto voice has sung praise to her God every week of her life. She is going to love Heaven!
Ann was a woman with a sweet spirit and gentle disposition which God says is very precious in His sight (1 Peter 3:4). She was a tiny person with huge faith. In the last few days, several of you have said, as many as I have ever heard said about a person,”I don’t know anyone who was more faithful than Ann Craddock.” This isn’t a statement to focus on comparisons as much as it is to say, she was faithful in everything. She worshiped faithfully, taught faithfully, loved others faithfully, served faithfully, lived faithfully and even died faithfully. No one is trying to paint a deceptive picture that Ann never sinned, but was she blameless, absolutely.
Ann joined the team from Mt Juliet to reach the people of Ukraine who were hungry for the Gospel just after the Iron Curtain fell. The fruit of her work over 20 years ago is still seen in our present Ukrainian work that has roots in her work. Even though she was a widow in her sixties, she didn’t hesitate to board the plane to plant seeds of the Savior. This wasn’t new to her, she was simply doing what she did all throughout her life – tell others about Jesus and His church.
In 2006, about this time of year, the Mt Juliet congregation was creating an advertisement to send out into the community. We were gathering quotes from members to share. One questions we asked our members was “How important is God and His church in your life?” Mrs. Ann’s answer was proven by the way she lived, “It is my highest priority.” Her little brother, Gabby, referenced her death after a life of service saying, “This is what she strove for her whole life.” Christians are people who live on this earth to glorify the Lord while waiting on His return. She was a faithful Christian. “A woman that fears the Lord, she shall be praised” (Proverbs 31:30b).
Ann Hayes Craddock, a hero of some, a sister of God’s children and an ambassador for the Lord, has marched into victory. Glory be to God! May our daughters learn from her and all be edified by her life. Until we meet again.