Donald McCray RankinOctober 25, 1927 ~ June 5, 2017 (age 89)
Donald M. Rankin, 89, passed away peacefully on Monday, June 5, 2017, at McLeod Hospice House in Florence after a short illness.
He was a son of the late William Lamar and Tula Beards Rankin of Gastonia, NC.
He was a WWII veteran having served with the US Navy Seabees in the South Pacific late in the war effort. His unit was sent to clear Bikini Atoll in the Marshall Islands in preparation for the first hydrogen bomb blast.
Upon honorable discharge, he attended Queens College in Charlotte, NC, on the GI bill. It was while a student at Queens that he met his future wife, Martha “Marty” Miller Cottingham, on a blind date while chaperoning a younger couple.
He and Marty married on August 28, 1949. Shortly thereafter, they moved to Clemson for two years for him to complete his degree in animal husbandry at Clemson College. Upon graduation in 1951, they came to live on the Cottingham family farm in Bennettsville.
Beginning in 1958, he was employed with the USDA Animal Plant Health Inspection Service as the Pee Dee regional Plant Pest Control Officer for 35 years. He and his colleagues worked to successfully eradicate Witchweed, a parasitic plant, which plagued the state’s corn crop.
He was an active member of First Presbyterian Church in Bennettsville where he taught Sunday school, served as the Sunday school superintendent and was ordained as an elder. He was the last surviving elder before rotation began within the congregation. He was also a member of the Bennettsville Jaycees.
He was a warm and compassionate individual who loved his family, church and all animals. He was quick witted and always made the most out of all situations. He selflessly never missed an opportunity to help anyone in need. He also enjoyed watching westerns and Clemson University athletics on television.
He is survived by his wife of 67 years, Martha “Marty” Miller Cottingham of the home; son, Donald McCray Rankin Jr., also of the home; daughter, Mary Colin Rankin Arndt (Chester Earl Arndt Jr.) of Sanford, NC; sister, Dorothy Rankin Rhyne of Mount Pleasant; brother, Sam Rankin of Gastonia; nephews, Bill Rankin of Asheboro, NC, Frankie Rhyne of Gastonia, Andy Rhyne of Mount Pleasant, and Robert Warren of Orange, CA; nieces, Legree Rankin Naddleman of Savannah, GA, and Kathi Warren Lauten of Los Alamitos, CA; and special friends, Nancy Townsend of Bennettsville, Kathy and Curtis Kelley of Dillon, Elizabeth Haun of Florence, and Rosena Wright of Bennettsville.
In addition to his parents listed above, he was preceded in death by a daughter, Martha Miller (Blossom) Rankin in 1971, and a brother, Bill Rankin of Gastonia.
A memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. on Saturday, June 10, at First Presbyterian Church followed by committal at Sunset Memorial Park. A visitation will be held on Friday, June 9, from 6 until 8 p.m. at Burroughs & Cooper Funeral Home.
Memorials may be made to First Presbyterian Church, PO Box 627, Bennettsville SC 29512 or McLeod Hospice House, 1203 E. Cheves St., Florence, SC 29506.
Burroughs & Cooper Funeral Home is assisting the Rankin family.
Condolences may be offered online at burroughscooperfh.com.