Richard Kyle Cranford was born August 10, 1966, in Paducah, Texas. He attended Paducah schools and graduated from Paducah High School in 1984.
After high school, Kyle attended Wayland Baptist University and pursued a degree in education. As a student there, he ran on the WBU track team and ran “rabbit” for the world class runners. He became friends with many world class runners during his college coaching career, namely, Carl Lewis.
He took his first teaching/coaching position at Muleshoe, Texas. There he would take kids from study halls and the cafeteria and work with them, creating State titled Cross Country and long-distance track teams.
Kyle decided to further his education and went to Texas Tech University to get his Master’s Degree. While at Tech, he helped coach track. After his completion of his Masters, he applied at the prestigious Ivy League, Columbia University, in New York City, where he was hired as track coach and national recruiter. He also worked on his doctorate while at Columbia University. Kyle coached a number of national title winners and had runners whom he had coached that competed in the Olympics. During his tenure at Columbia, he was offered the head track position at NYU, of which he declined, because he was ready to be closer to home.
Before his move closer to home, he took a part-time job at a sports store, selling running shoes. While employed there, he had the privilege of visiting with and getting to know Caroline Kennedy, JFK, JR, and Sandra Bullock, when they would come in and specifically ask for him to help them with their shoe needs.
While in New York, he enjoyed all of the great sites and music opportunities. He would play his guitar on the streets and draw crowds, as they listened to him play blues. One day, he had the surprise of his life when Ace Frehley, lead guitarist for the group, KISS, came up and listened to him and then joined in.
Kyle did get closer to home when he took the head distance track coach/national recruiting job at the University of Oklahoma. When he was there, he and Mike Leach became lunch buddies, oftentimes, having lunch together, and visiting about their programs.
When he got out of coaching, Kyle came back to Paducah to be with his family. He was diagnosed with a blood disorder that caused many health complications, as his blood would clot and have to be medically thinned, making it difficult to stay as physically active has he had previously been.
He loved playing his guitar. It brought him joy to have an “audience” listen to him as he played blues and rock music. Kyle was a talented musician in many aspects. He played several instruments and loved to sing. His talents weren’t only in music, but in art, as well. He was quite good at drawing and painting.
He was preceded in death by his mother, Janice Cranford; his maternal grandparents, Clyde and Pearl Black; and his paternal grandparents, Richard and Neza Cranford.
Survivors include his father, Richard Cranford of Paducah; a sister, Michelle Whitaker (Dale) of Paducah; Two nephews, Cory Whitaker of Paducah, and Casey Whitaker (Mackenzie) of Quanah; One niece, Courtney Canales (Waldo) of Paducah; Two great-nephews, Keaton Canales and Rowdy Whitaker; Two great-nieces, Kennedy Whitaker and Camdyn Canales.