Erden Richard Craven, Jr. of Leedey, OK was born on March 30, 1948 to Erden Richard Craven, Sr. and Grace Corrine Martin Craven in Bethany, OK. He moved into his heavenly home on Dec. 6, 2020 from the Covid unit at Alliance Health Hospital in Woodward, OK at age 72.
Richard grew up in Bethany, attending all 12 years of school with friends from his small neighborhood; graduating in 1966. He had many friends, although he would say in later years (only partly in jest) that it was largely because of his pretty sister. Richard was caring and loyal; If he had a pleasant acquaintance with you, he considered you his friend. He was a helper by nature. If he encountered someone who had a need, either he would find a way to meet it himself, or if that were not possible, he would put that person in contact with someone else who could.
During his senior year in High School, Richard became a police dispatcher with the Bethany Police Department. Police work suited him well, and he went on to spend a combined 17 years with the police department there and, later, in Scottsdale, AZ. While working as a Detective with the Scottsdale department, Richard was instrumental in helping to solve a high-profile murder case in Akron, Ohio which later became the subject of two books, “The Hunting of Cain” by Dan E. Moldea and “Please Don’t Kill Me” by William C. Dear and Carlton Stowers.
In 1971, he married Linda Landsberg Bourdon, welcoming her 6-year-old daughter Kim as his own. A few years later, younger daughter Rikki was born to them. Richard loved his daughters dearly, and greatly enjoyed his grandchildren while he lived near them. Sadly, this marriage ended and Richard later moved back to Oklahoma, having accepted a call from God into the Ministry. Richard’s particular ministry lay in helping small churches, so he was often bi-vocational.
It was during the next few years that he would work a second job for a well-known jewelry store in Stillwater, OK. While employed there, he traveled for several years to Antwerp, Belgium to choose and buy diamonds for the store. He enjoyed the experience immensely, and he loved selling diamonds and Rolex watches. It was also during these years that Richard started a southern gospel singing group called Southern Praise with friends Steve and Lynda Langford, Gene Hancock and his sister Pat Heath. They traveled and sang extensively over a three-state area in Sunday evening church services and for special events.
Some years later, he and Robin Hunter Evans were married in Fort Supply, OK following a Wednesday evening service, and she became part of the singing group. She and Richard often talked of how the enjoyment and love they found in their marriage was how they had always believed marriage should be.
Early in their marriage, they were privileged to spend ten weeks as interim ministers at the Farewell Avenue Christian Church in Fairbanks, AK. Following this interim, Richard accepted a call to First Christian Church in Marianna, AR. They spent 6 happy years ministering there, meeting many dear friends, and Richard building his handyman business while Robin ran the office at the local funeral home. During the second year there, they were blessed to spend a month ministering in small Filipino churches in Hawaii. Four years later God gave them the gift of spending 10 days on the northeastern coast of Scotland in a small town called Buckie, ministering in the local Church of Christ.
Richard had learned about this church some years before, and always felt an attraction to the area. They moved back from Arkansas to pastor the Christian Church in Nash, OK in 2012, allowing them to be nearer their widowed mothers, Grace (still in the family home in Bethany) and Arlene, living in Vici. Again, they met many wonderful friends who continued to be part of their lives when they moved to the Leedey community to pastor the Red Star Brethren in Christ Church in early spring of 2019. In January of 2020, Richard suffered a stroke which took away much of his musical ability, and on September 11, a second stroke, which left him deaf and with Wernicke’s Aphasia. Richard’s love for God, his family, and the ministry never wavered, but his strong spirit began to wane and when he became ill with Covid on November 29, he no longer possessed the stamina to defeat it. He left this world at 1:30 a.m. on December 6, greeting his Lord face-to-face after having loved and served Him for a lifetime.
Richard was preceded in death by his parents and a sister who passed away at a very young age.
He leaves behind his beloved wife Robin of the home at Red Star, his daughters Kim Gifford and husband Ron, and Rikki Waller of Chandler, AZ; a large group of wonderful grandchildren and great-grandchildren, much-loved sister Patricia Heath and husband Mike of Warr Acres, Ok; Aunt Lendell Hamman and husband Merwyn of Bethany, nieces and nephews; and many friends all over the country.
Richard left a lasting impression on every life he touched; he will never be forgotten.
Memorials may be made to the Red Star Brethren in Christ Church in care of Shaw Funeral Home, PO Box 276, Vici, OK 73859.
Private family services were held Saturday December 12, 2020 at 10:00 am at the Red Star Brethren in Christ Church, Leedey, OK with public burial following at 11:00 am at the Red Star Cemetery, Leedey, OK. Condolences may be made to the family at shawfuneralhome.net. Shaw Funeral Home of Leedey.