Carman Earl Courtney, November 18, 1938~May 21, 2016
Carman Earl Courtney was born at home on the family farm in Winslow, Arkansas on November 18, 1938. Earl was the 10th of the 12 Courtney children. He worked the family farm until he was 16. At age 16 he moved to Washington State to live with his sisters, Randolyn and Norma, to work the harvest. It was there that Randolyn taught him to play guitar. He used the money he earned that year to buy the first of his many guitars.
In 1956, after a year in Washington, Earl returned home to Arkansas and enlisted in the Army. After three years of service, he returned to civilian life in 1959 and made a decision that would shape the rest of his life. Earl’s brothers were working at the mine in Climax, Colorado, and Earl decided he would go work with them. It was there that Earl met the love of his life, Shirley Kufeldt. Earl and Shirley were married on July 30, 1960. They were blessed to share 55 years of marriage and 56 years of friendship.
Wanting to provide for his new bride and their future family, Earl decided to return to the Army. Military life allowed Earl and Shirley to travel all over the world together. Both of their children, Charlene and Carmen, were born overseas in Germany while Earl was stationed there.
While in Germany, Earl had the opportunity to open for the U.S.O. and for many famous entertainers, including: Hank Snow, Brenda Lee, Faron Young, and The Willis Brothers. He was even offered a career in music in Nashville, but chose to continue serving his family and country instead.
Earl retired from the Army in 1978 after 22 years of service as a combat helicopter pilot. He served a remote tour in Korea and a tour of combat during the Vietnam War. He achieved the high rank of Chief Warrant Officer 3 and received The Vietnam Service Medal with four Bronze Service Stars, Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal, Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal (Korea), Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross with Palm, Armed Forces Reserve Medal, and the Army Commendation Medal.
After he retired, Earl and Shirley and their youngest daughter Carmen moved home to Arkansas to be with his family. He cared for his aging parents, his siblings, and his immediate family, all while working as many as three jobs at a time.
Earl was the man you wanted on your side. If you were a friend or family to Earl, you knew you would always be taken care of. When anyone needed anything, someone would always say, “Call Earl.”
Earl was a man of patience, who found pleasure investing his time in the things he loved, as is evidenced by the way he chose to spend his time. He was a flight instructor, charter pilot, FBO manager, carpenter, and welding instructor. He also loved gardening, fishing and hunting, teaching music, and playing music any chance he got. He played and sang in various bands ever since 1957, and was still performing regularly until March of 2016.
Earl lived a Christian life. He was a man of his word and he cared for the meek and the lowly. He was obedient to the Lord in the profession of his faith and in baptism on May 15, 2016. We rest in the confidence that he is now in the Kingdom of his Savior, where all is as it should be.
Earl’s life was defined by the things he loved. He lived his life to serve his country, and those dear to him. There is a large circle of lives he touched with his generosity; lives that are different and better for having known him.
He is preceded in death by his parents Charles and Lillian Courtney, his brothers Conrad (Sonny) and Carlton Courtney and his baby sister Charlene Lockett. He will be greatly missed by his wife Shirley and his daughters Charlene White and husband Steve, Carmen Rees and husband Christian, his siblings Randolyn Kilpatrick, Leona Thurber, Shirley Pool, Charles Courtney, Norma Hill, Marilyn Lindsey, Carlma Jean Hodges, John Courtney, his grandchildren Jeremy and Emily White, Billy and Nicole White, Christian and Cori White, Sommer and Luke Roller, Courtney and Anna Rees, Lydia White, Katharine Rees, Vandegrift Rees, and 12 great-grandchildren.
Funeral services will be 10:00 A.M. Friday, May 27, 2016 at the First Baptist Church West Fork with Pastor Heath Clower officiating. Interment will follow in Blackburn Cemetery (Winslow) with full military honors under the direction of Beard’s Chapel.
An open visitation will be Thursday, May 26, 2016 from 12 P.M. until 7 P.M. at Beard’s Chapel.
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