David Thomas McCrea passed peacefully on November 13, 2020, in Roswell, New Mexico, with his lovely wife, Lauralea, by his side.
Born on November 15, 1935, in Beverly Hills, California, to Joel McCrea and Frances Dee, David was the middle son between brothers Joel Dee "Jody" McCrea, deceased, and Peter McCrea. David—or "Barney" as he came to be called during childhood for his love of the barn—grew up on his parents' horse and cattle ranch in southern California before going to New Mexico Military Institute, California Polytechnic State University, and finally Principia College, where he earned a bachelor's degree in biology.
David loved helping on his parents' ranch, as well as other aspects of the rural life, so any chance David could escape to the country and work with animals, he would. Once out of school, and after serving honorably in the United States Army, David embarked on a quest to find the perfect ranch away from the bright lights of Hollywood with his first wife, Jan Johnson.
Together, David and Jan ranched in California, Nevada, and Oklahoma, before returning to California. During that time, David and Jan had three children: Wyatt, now of Thousand Oaks, California; Clay, now of Moorpark, California; and Jeni Flowers, of Roswell. Shortly after having Jeni, however, Jan died of cancer.
At the same time, David had been looking to return to southeastern New Mexico—where he was drawn to the high desert landscape and wonderful people he met while attending NMMI.
In time, David found a ranch east of Roswell and married a ranch girl from Del Rio, Texas— Lourene Jarrett.
Together, David and Lourene ranched east of Roswell from 1971 to 1993, where they raised Wyatt, Clay, Jeni, and their last additions: Bob, of Roswell, and Mitchell, now of Dallas, Texas. In 1993, David and Lourene moved their ranching operations to west of Roswell, and the family has continued to ranch there ever since, although David turned over ranch management (and digging post holes in the rock) to Bob several years ago.
Lourene died in a car accident in 2004, but instead of spending the rest of his life alone on the ranch, David was fortunate (and smart enough) to look across the fence and find love with his longtime friend and neighbor, Lauralea (Peters) Marley. David and Lauralea were married for 15 years and enjoyed spending time with David's five children and their families and Lauralea's three sons and their families. Together, and later in life, David and Lauralea made their home in Tinnie, where one or more of their eight children, eight children in law, eighteen grandchildren, seven grandchildren in law, and/or ten great grandchildren were always stopping by to see their "Papa Crea" and "Nana Lala."
Nothing came before God in David's life, and he remained a devout Christian Scientist for his entire life. Second came family, and third came the land and animals under his care. David was principled, humble, gentle, humorous, and kind, and he was guided by Christ in everything he did. He taught his children and grandchildren much about loving God, working hard, and loving others, and he will be forever missed.
Because David firmly believed that life has no beginning or ending, he never celebrated birthdays and made sure we agreed not to commemorate his passing. Instead, next year, his family will have a private celebration of his life at the ranch.
Also, instead of flowers or other gifts to the family, please feel free to give in David's name to: the New Mexico Cattlegrowers Foundation, Inc., 2231 Rio Grande Blvd. NW, Albuquerque, New Mexico 87194; www.cattlegrowersfoundation.com; telephone 505-247-0584; email firstname.lastname@example.org; or the Joel and Frances McCrea Ranch Foundation, P.O. Box 548, Moorpark, California 93020; www.mccrearanchfoundation.org; telephone 805-495-2163.
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