.
  
 
Ken Crane 

“Everything I know I learned from the Cornfields of Indiana ,” Ken Crane

In a Rolling Hills, California cemetery there is a tombstone bearing the inscription “Everything I know I learned from the cornfields of Indiana .” Anyone seeing this would have to ask what thought was behind it. After all, this cemetery is thousands of miles from Indiana cornfields. It belongs to Ken Crane, one of Martin County ’s most successful entrepreneurs ever. The story behind the tombstone message spans many decades of life and experiences, and this epitaph was one that Ken proudly repeated many times in his life. The lessons of hard work, teamwork, respect for others, and a love for family were all incubated and nourished here.

Ken left Indiana in the 1940’s on advice that the southern Indiana climate was not conducive to a healthy life for him. Suffering from severe allergies, Ken took the doctor’s advice and headed west, not stopping until he reached the Pacific shore. There, Ken started working at RCA. He also collaborated with his brother in-law who had a radio store to begin offering TV’s for sale. TV was just starting out with its future unknown...and a sense of not knowing how people would ever afford it. Yet Ken was intrigued by this new invention...and that is when with a loan of $3,500 from his parents, Ken bought the store and became one of the first Magnavox dealers in California . One successful store led to another and another until there were eight Ken Crane Home Entertainment Centers in southern California . These successful stores made Ken a very wealthy man, yet he never forgot his roots and would proudly proclaim his business sense and prowess were learned here… in the cornfields of Martin County . 

At Ken’s  funeral, several  people who were long time friends, and business associates spoke, and at the very end a Hispanic man walked up to the microphone and was obviously very nervous. After a few seconds, he said “My name is David, no one here knows me, but I have a story to tell", he proceeded to say that he was the limo driver (hired by the cemetery) who brought the family to the services today. David relayed a story that he remembered his father telling him...that when he (David) was only a child, his father a Hispanic laborer dressed in his work clothes, took David out one day to buy the family's first TV. They went from store to store, looking for a TV but no one would even wait on them. That was until they came into Ken Crane's and Ken himself waited on them, arranged financing, and had their first TV delivered the next day.  He said that when he came to the house to pick the family up, he saw the name on the street sign and wondered then if it were the same Ken Crane he had heard his father talk about, and then heard the family talking in the car on the way to the cemetery about Ken.  David said that he would have normally just waited outside in the car, but he felt compelled to come in and sat in the very back of the church. He said that after hearing so many people say such nice things, he got the courage to get up and tell his story.

Ken Crane passed away in Rolling Hills in November of 2004. The Martin County Community Foundation received a large gift in his memory from his family along with this message, “Since Dad always gave credit to the Martin County cornfields that gave him his roots, literally and figuratively, and made him what he became, a wonderful husband, father, and successful business man….we can think of no better way to honor both he and our mother than to give back to the community in which his heart and soul never left.”     

It is with honor that the Martin County Community Foundation establishes an endowment fund named the “Ken and Juanita Crane Unrestricted Fund for the Betterment of Martin County.”

                                                                                    Back to Donor List


About the LCCF
Funds
Grants & Scholarships
Donor Stories
News & Events
  Links to Other Resources

About the MCCF
Funds
Grants & Scholarships
Donor Stories
News & Events
  Links to Other Resources

P.O. Box 1235, 1324 K Street, Suite 150, Bedford, IN 47421, 812-279-2215, fax 812-279-1984