Table of Contents
Frank “Lud” McCrary, co-founder of Big Creek Lumber, Davenport, Ca., passed away on Aug. 6 at the age of 95.
Lud co-founded Big Creek in 1946 after his service in World War II with his father, Frank McCrary Sr.; his uncle, Homer Trumbo; and his brother, Homer “Bud” McCrary. What started as a small operation milling lumber in the Santa Cruz Mountains has since grown to include a renowned sustainable forestry division, a redwood sawmill, a wholesale lumber division, and six retail lumber and building materials stores located throughout California. The business is still family owned and is currently being led by the third generation, with members of the fourth generation also working in the business.
Lud was born in Santa Cruz County on June 30, 1928 and was the fourth generation of his family to make his home in Swanton. He took a lot of pride and joy in tending his ranch and had a great interest in cattle and horses. He enjoyed spending time building trails and riding long distances with his wife Barbara and his family. For many years, Lud, Barbara, and their family managed the Castle Rock 50-mile Endurance Ride, as well as the Swanton Pacific 100-mile Endurance Ride, hosted on their ranch in Swanton. Lud and Barbara spent much of their free time building or maintaining public and private trails throughout Santa Cruz County, many of them in Big Basin State Park. Lud and his family donated their time assisting marine biologists with elephant seal research on Año Nuevo Island for several years. Lud and his wife Barbara also volunteered with State Parks as mounted horse patrol.
One of Lud’s greatest joys during his career at Big Creek was connecting with and learning from other people who had different backgrounds or experiences than him. He loved talking with truck drivers and learning about what they were seeing out on the road or how they thought the economy was doing, visiting with strangers or neighbors who stopped by the office for all sorts of reasons, calling ships passing by on the radio and talking to the captain, or visiting with co-workers who would often stop by his desk to catch up. He didn’t care who you were or where you came from, as long as you had an interesting story, and he could always find the ways in which you shared common ground. He had made many long-time friends from his wholesale customers who he sold redwood to over the years and he thought highly of those in the industry who he worked with.
He was known for having a great garden, especially a robust raspberry patch. He would often have so much extra produce that he would bring it to work and share it with co-workers in the office and sawmill.
His generosity of spirit meant that he was always jumping in to lend a hand if there was a need. Natural disasters and emergencies were commonly where you could find him jumping into action and helping his community. One of the acknowledgements that he was most proud of was a commendation from the U.S. Coastguard for his role in helping rescue a fisherman in distress off the coast. At the age of 15 he signed up with the Merchant Marine during World War II and later served in the Navy Seabees in the Korean War. Locally, he served on the Davenport Fire and Rescue in his younger years.
Lud was a dedicated student and avid consumer of history, especially local history, and was often consulted by local historians to lend his vast knowledge and perspective on a variety of topics. He was often known to participate in historical demonstrations or historical restorations by contributing his unique skills working with redwood making split shakes, posts and pickets or sourcing unique pieces of redwood for a special project. He kept a daily diary for most of his life, in which he would record what was going on in the family and neighborhood and significant events from around the world. Reading his diaries was a great way to catch up on what was going on if you’d been away for a while.
He served as a weather recorder for the Santa Cruz Sentinel for several decades. He served as a Board Member and President of the Santa Cruz County Fair Board for several years, as well as donating his time and experience serving on Santa Cruz County’s Agricultural Policy Advisory Commission. He was Farmer of the Year in 1988, and also received recognition from the Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors and the State of California several times throughout his lifetime.
Up until his passing, Lud was able to enjoy an independent life on his ranch with his wife of 73 years. He is survived by his wife, Barbara, daughters Susan, Ellen, and Janet, sons-in-law Butch, Dennis, and Steve, four grandchildren Katie, Dennis, Agnes and Aleksey, a grand-daughter-in-law, Michelle, and two great-grandchildren Andy and June who were a great delight to him in his final years.