Jeffrey's Story

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Jeffrey Lynn Cantrell, aged 56, passed away on Sept. 28, 2017, at Indiana University Hospital in Indianapolis.
He is survived by his wife, Beverly (Boyer) Cantrell; children, Tarah D. (Laurence Brown) Cantrell, Regina N. (John Kinzfogl) Cantrell-Kinzfogl, and Otis M. (Kari) Cantrell; parents, Peggy and Otis Cantrell; mother-in-law, Frances Boyer; sister, Katrinia (Michael) Trace; brother, David (Anne) Cantrell; sister-in-law, Brenda (Dobie) Cox; brother-in-law, Michael (Becky Johnson-Reed) Boyer; as well as many nieces, nephews, grand-nieces, and grand-nephews.
He was preceded in death by his sister, Geoia Lee; and father-in-law, Harold Max Boyer.
Born on Nov. 14, 1960, Jeff was a man of a thousand interests. And there was one in particular that remained a constant throughout the course of his illustrious life: his family. Jeff married Beverly on April 7, 1979, following their first date at an Aerosmith concert the previous September.
It is perhaps fitting that their union which remained strong throughout began against the backdrop of a rock 'n' roll concert. After all, Jeff would later impart his love of music both as an avid consumer and as a passionate practitioner to his three children, who excelled in the fields of musical theater (Tarah), color guard (Regina), and guitar study (Otis).
And seldom was Jeff's dedication to both of these things family and music more evident than during those legendary family reunions in the state of his birth, West Virginia. On various Labor Day weekends, he loved nothing more than getting together with the Cantrells and serenading everyone with both conversation and the sound of bluegrass.
Traveling of this kind came naturally to Jeff, who coming from an Air Force family once lived in Italy and Germany with his parents, Peggy and Otis Sr.; brother, Davidl; and sister, Katrinia.
Perhaps this informed his later life, which saw him, Beverly, and his children not only relocate to North Carolina for a time, but take numerous camping trips across the country throughout the years.
Like his father before him, Jeff would himself become a member of the Air Force, and was recognized for his considerable service with a "Can-Do" AREFW Outstanding Service Award (July 1980-July 1988) from 305th Field Maintenance Squadron Grissom AFB, a Journeyman Crew Chief Award, a SAC Master Technician Award, and an Air Force Commendation Medal for Meritorious Service (January 1981-March 1988).
Upon his honorable discharge, he acquired a lifetime FCC and AFPP license and certification to begin a civilian career in aviation with USAir. Years later, when this job came to a close following the events of Sept. 11, 2001, Jeff could have chosen to bury his head in the sand and feel sorry for himself. Instead as was the case with everything he did he sought out a way to improve his family's situation; he embarked on higher education.
Gaining a bachelor of science (2003), two master's degrees (2006 and 2009), and later pursuing a doctorate in education (2017), Jeff would shine as an educator, underscored by the fact that he was awarded the 2008 M.E.C. Star Educator at Modoc School Corp., the 2011 YOC Muncie Teacher of the Year, the 2013-14 YOC Muncie Teacher of the Year, and was a 2015 Indiana Teacher of the Year Semifinalist.
Ultimately, even in light of all his professional accomplishments, Jeff remained humble throughout his life. It was the role of family man at which he most excelled; indeed, the biggest awards he received came in the form of his children's many accomplishments and responsibility as adults, about which Jeff was always immensely proud. In addition to remaining a loving husband and diligent father throughout his life, he also enjoyed the company of his dogs, giving good lives to Tramp, Red, Pebbles, Bam Bam, Paco, and Carmella.
The cycle of life has seen the loss of a great man. But before he left us, Jeff got to learn of an imminent addition to the family in the form of his first grandchild: Elise Rose was born Nov. 1, 2017 the same birth month as the man himself.
Services will be held for Jeff on Saturday, Dec. 9, at Brown Butz Diedring Funeral Home. Doors open at 1 p.m., with the service beginning at 2 p.m.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the IU Simon Cancer Center for Pancreatic Cancer. Please make memorial gifts payable to IU Foundation/Pancreatic Cancer Research and indicate "In memory of Jeff Cantrell".
IU Simon Cancer Center, P.O. Box 7072, Indianapolis, IN 46207.
Published on December 4, 2017
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