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John Henry Criner III: 1938-2022


From the Family of John Criner, “Papa Duck”

John H. Criner, III was born on September 1, 1938, to John H. Criner, Jr and Mae Black Criner, he was an only child. Sadly, he passed to the Great Duck Blind on June 27 comfortably and peacefully at his quiet home in Proctor. He leaves behind his beloved wife Sarah Colleen Criner, son Keith Criner, daughter in law Mary Criner and his little grand ducklings Owen and Anna Criner. He was preceded in death by his mother and father. He loved and cherished his family above all else.

He was known by many names, but most commonly, John, Johnny, Dad, Daddy, and his favorite, Papa Duck – gifted to him by his grandson Owen.

Papa Duck was many things in life, from motel proprietor to Labrador Retriever trainer to business owner to schoolteacher; he enjoyed teaching the most. Later in life he found happiness writing an Outdoor column for The Evening Times. He never met a stranger and was most content and happy in the woods chasing ducks or catching fish. If you have a premier hunting or fishing hole, he’s probably called you; bashful he was not.

While Papa Duck enjoyed the outdoors, he was most happy watching and teaching others to appreciate nature’s beauty and tranquility. Seeing a young fisherman catch their first bream or harvest the first duck gave him much happiness. He had many friends and always saw their positive attributes.

Many conversations would involve a story regarding camp life at the 101 Club, his home away from home.

The stories invariably became more colorful over the years. Johnny was a great storyteller and an avid reader, regularly completing several books weekly. He was never rushed or in a hurry and maybe the only person to ever have received a traffic citation for driving too slow.

Dad was a generous, loving and kind man. While he didn’t accept much grief from his rambunctious teenage son, he found the perfect blend of love, wisdom, compassion, and freedom mixed with expectations. He felt more importantly that a young man should always respect his mother and deeply loved his wife. He spoke many times that she was his rock and the perfect life partner.

For the record, he was correct on all accounts. He believed that a person’s word was their honor, and a handshake was contractual; he lived and practiced those beliefs daily. If dad said he would be somewhere, he’d be ten minutes early. Dad molded his young son in the outdoors and created a love for all that Mother Nature has to offer; never once did he not offer take me along on his adventures. He was the perfect dad and able to change with the seasons of life. As he aged, he was easily able to transition from parent to sage grandfather and become a mentor for many.

No doubt he is loved and will be sorely missed for years to come.

Papa Duck was a lifelong member of First Baptist Church, having been baptized there as a child. He enjoyed his Sunday School Class and its members.

While we all wanted more time with him, he was ready to go to his heavenly home. He loved the Lord and never failed to say Grace before a meal, regardless of who was providing the meal or where it was being enjoyed. He many times talked of his Papa and how he longed to catch another fish with him. It is unknown if there is a lake in Heaven but if there is, they are setting decoys and baiting hooks; may the limits be liberal and the seasons long.

In lieu of flowers, Papa Duck has requested that any memorials be sent to First Baptist Church, West Memphis so they can continue their diligent work of spreading the Gospel to all, so that we all may meet again up yonder in a little while.

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