John Gordon Cran, 80, owned Kapapala Ranch
John Gordon Cran, owner of Kapapala Ranch in Ka'u on the Big Island, died Nov. 8 at his home on the ranch. He was 80.
Cran, who went by "Gordon," was owner and operator of Kapapala Ranch from 1977 until his death. The ranch is a family-run operation on 30,000 acres leased from the state.
In 1995, Cran was given the Cattleman of the Year Award by the Hawai'i Cattlemen's Council, and in 1998 he was inducted into the Paniolo Hall of Fame.
Cran was born and raised in Hilo and served in the U.S. Army from 1945 to 1947. He attended the University of Arizona from 1948 to 1950, and began his ranching career as a ranch hand at Pu'u 'Oho Ranch.
During part of his long career as a cattleman, he worked as a cowboy for Bull Basin Ranch in Arizona, operator for the Daniel Allen Ranch in Arizona, foreman for Keauhou Ranch in Volcano, utility supervisor for Hawaiian Agriculture Co. in Pahala, foreman for Kapapala Ranch from 1953 to 1957, and manager of Mokulei'a Ranch and Land Co. in Waialua on O'ahu from 1959 to 1976.
Cran also served as the Hawai'i state committeeman for the Agriculture Stabilization & Conservation Service from 1969 to 1971, and helped organize the Hawaii Cattle Producers Co-op. He served as co-op president for six years and was president of the O'ahu Cattlemen's Association from 1965 to 1967.
He was also active in the Hawai'i Farm Bureau and Cattlemen's Association for many years.
"He was a man of great integrity, and I'm proud to call him my friend," said Monty Richards, longtime patriarch of Kahua Ranch in Kohala, another member of the Paniolo Hall of Fame. "He represents everything that is good about ranching and the cattleman's way of life. I'm going to miss him."
Cran's wife of 53 years, the former Genevieve Bertlemann, said Cran was already planning to become a rancher when he was attending Hilo High School. "He wrote an essay when he was 17 that said he wanted to get himself a place with some horses, cattle and dogs," she said.
Cran's daughter, Lani Cran Petrie, said her father was a mentor to many successful people in Hawai'i's cattle industry. She described Cran as an extremely patient man and a gentle man, but also said he was "just as tough as he had to be."
Cran was a fine storyteller with a wry wit and an excellent knowledge of history, and generously devoted time to many people, including schoolchildren who visited the ranch, family members said.
"His spirit and his wisdom were inspirational to me," said Rachael Keolanui Epperson, who owns and operates a camping adventure program for children on Kapapala Ranch called Donkey Tales of Hawai'i.
Cran was willing to provide information about cattle ranching to displaced sugar workers at Ka'u Agribusiness, and allowed university professors to visit the ranch to further their research on plants, insects and animals.
He once advised a group of young people to "set goals that allow you to do things you love. If you don't know where you're going, you'll never get there."
He is survived by wife Genevieve, son John Gordon Jr., daughter Lani Cran Petrie (Bill Petrie), and grandchildren Alex Francis, Clifford Francis, Tyler Cran, LaRee Cran, Jon David Cran, Charlie Petrie IV, Marie Petrie. Services will be held at Kapapala Ranch on Saturday, Nov. 24, at 10 a.m. Lei and flowers are welcome.