Donald LeRoy McCracken 

Feb. 11, 1952 - Dec. 25, 2015

Donald LeRoy McCracken Jr., 63, died quietly in his home in Cowley in the early hours of Christmas morning, Dec. 25, 2015, surrounded by his family.  Don died of complications of diabetes. He was the first of three sons of Donald LeRoy McCracken Sr. and Betty Lillian Leikam McCracken.  He was born in Billings on Feb. 11, 1952.He attended school at Garfield Elementary, Riverside Junior High and Senior High School. He moved to Lovell in 1968 and graduated from Lovell High School in 1970. He briefly attended Eastern Montana College in Billings. He enlisted in the U. S. Air Force on April 6, 1971, and completed basic training at Lackland Air Force Base, San Antonio, Texas.After basic, he went to Sheppard Air Force Base, Wichita Falls, Texas, for technical training as a missile facility technician. It was there that he met and married his eternal companion and love of his life, Airman Shelley Ann Musick, on Sept. 28, 1971. Don always liked to tell people that his wife was Air Force issue; and that he had filled out a requisition form. Don and Shelley were sealed in the Los Angeles Temple in California on Jan. 8, 1974.[caption id="attachment_10778" align="alignright" width="201"]Donald LeRoy McCracken  Donald LeRoy McCracken [/caption]After completing technical training, he was assigned to McConnell AFB, Wichita, Kan., as a Titan II crew member. While stationed at McConnell, he advanced in rank to staff sergeant. He attended college at Kansas Newman College, graduating in 1978 with two bachelor’s degrees, one in business administration and one in industrial safety. In 1979, he retrained into aircraft avionics maintenance, which enabled him to join his wife, Shelley. Don completed training at Kessler Air Force Base, Biloxi, Miss., and then joined Shelley at Tyndall Air Force Base, Panama City, Fla.  While stationed at Tyndall, Don and Shelley joyfully increased their family by adopting Donna Kay and Linda Mae McCracken on Nov. 26, 1980. They were sealed as a family in the Salt Lake Temple on  June 7, 1982.In 1980, Don was accepted to Officer’s Training School. After completion, he was commissioned by his wife, Captain Shelley McCracken. They were then stationed at Minot Air Force Base, North Dakota, where he served as a missile maintenance officer for the Minuteman II weapon system. He then cross-trained in disaster preparedness, completing training at Lowery AFB, Denver. While stationed there, he was promoted to captain. His next assignment was at Wurtsmith Air Force Base, Oscoda, Mich. From there he went to a remote assignment at Kunsan Air Force Base, Kunsan, Korea, where he was recognized as the “United States Air Force Outstanding Disaster Preparedness Officer” and his unit at Kunsan was recognized as the “United States Air Force Outstanding Large Installation Disaster Preparedness Program.” He served as a security consultant at the 1988 Seoul Korea Olympics. Upon his return from Korea, he was stationed at Headquarters Strategic Air Command, Offutt Air Force Base, Offutt, Neb., as the Chief, Strategic Air Command Air Base Operability Branch.In 1991, he completed a master of science degree in administration from Central Michigan University.  He completed his Air Force service with six associate’s degrees, two bachelor’s degrees and a master’s degree. Don retired as a captain after 20 years and four months of honorable service.Among his awards are the meritorious service medal, with two oak leaf clusters, the Air Force commendation medal with two oak leaf clusters, the Air Force achievement medal, the Combat Readiness medal with one oak leaf cluster, the Good Conduct medal with two oak leaf clusters and the National Defense ribbon with bronze service star.After retirement, Don served as the Emergency Management Coordinator for Big Horn County (1993-2001). He was elected area representative for the State Emergency Management Association, vice president and president (1999-2001). He was appointed by Gov. Jim Geringer to serve on the State Emergency Response Commission. He also worked as the executive director of the Big Horn Mountain Country Coalition.Don had a fervent testimony of the gospel of Jesus Christ and a great love for his savior. He served in many callings in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints:  Elders Quorum president, Young Men’s president, Scout Master, a counselor in two branch presidencies, Primary teacher, Scout committee chairman and in several stake positions. His favorite calling was as an ordinance worker at the Billings Montana Temple, where he served from Nov. 11, 1999, to June 20, 2003. Don and Shelley served there every Friday and Saturday and treasured each moment of their time in the temple.Don was released from temple service upon the adoption of their grandchildren Lori and Joshua Olga on Jan. 11, 2006. This began a new joy and adventure in his life. Lori and Josh gave him a new purpose in life, and he was dedicated to raising them to be exceptional individuals. His love for them was unbounded. They were sealed together on  Nov. 24, 2006, in the Billings Montana Temple.Don loved to hunt, fish, create deer horn knives and canes and sew leather journals. He loved making Arrow of Light arrows for the Webelo Scouts. He was a jack-of-all-trades and loved to share with his friends and family. He built their home, even though it took him over 20 years to complete it. Donna and Linda and later Josh and Lori and DessieRasmussen, a dear friend, assisted him with thebuilding process. He always liked to say that he wasn’t building a home; he was building children. All of his children learned how to work and gained many skills in the process. His wife and children were the mostimportant people in the world to him and he workeddiligently to make surethey knew how much he loved them.Don loved spending time with his wife. Shelley was the love of his life and he made sure she knew that every day. He and Shelley were inseparable. Their love encompassed them and they reached out and shared it with many people over the years. Their home was always open to anyone who needed friendship, advice, comfort or a place to stay. He is loved by many people whose lives he touched.Don was preceded in death by his mother, Betty Lillian Leikam McCracken, and Shelley’s parents Jack Frank Musick and Ethel Minerva Zion Musick. He is survived by his wife of 44 years, Shelley Ann Musick McCracken, and children Donna Kay McCracken, Linda Mae (Ricky) Daley, Lori Sophronia McCracken and Joshua Franklin McCracken; grandchildren Heather Dawn McCracken Pastirchak and Angela Marie Pastrichak; father Donald LeRoy McCracken Sr.; brothers Michael Edward (Sharon) and Steven Allen (Darlene) McCracken; brother-in-law Richard Lee (Judi) Musick; sisters-in-law Jeannie Marie Musick and Leni Musick (Derek) Hester and numerous nieces and nephews.Visitation will be held on Jan. 2, 2016, at 9 a.m. at the Cowley LDS Church with services at 10 a.m., followed by interment at the Cowley Cemetery.