OBITUARY

Renee Henley Cantrell

August 28, 1956October 24, 2018
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Renee Henley Cantrell blazed a trail to Heaven on October 24 2018. A lifelong Catholic deserving a place in Valhalla, her presence will be missed but her love will echo through the lives of her family. She was brought into this life on August 28 1956 to her parents Willie and Pamela Henley. The daughter of a Navy officer, she saw the world’s beauty firsthand. One of her earliest memories was of her time as a little girl in Bermuda, where every Sunday at dawn a British Navy officer would play the bagpipes on the pink sand beach with the children marching and dancing behind him, parents cursing as they nursed their Saturday hangovers. After the Navy her father worked for Air America, a covert airline for the CIA, and moved his family to Saigon. There Renee went to school and now also saw the world’s ugliness. One day a Viet Cong guerilla threw a grenade under their school bus and the driver fled to save himself. When it did not explode Renee and her sisters organized an evacuation of the bus and then secured a ride home from a local rickshaw. Their bus also routinely passed by a military hospital where they would be stopped while wounded soldiers were carried from helicopters across the street. Having a servant heart with painful empathy from a young age, one day Renee snuck away and was found reading letters to the wounded soldiers. Through these and many more experiences she learned life is both strong and fragile, beautiful and ugly, painful and joyful, and most of all, far too brief. Renee met her husband, David Cantrell, in 1997 in Montgomery. Within minutes they were inseparable and married May 19 1999. As he served the next 20 years in the military Renee served alongside him as his best friend, his greatest cheerleader, and his partner in crime. “Up or down, thin or flush, they never left each other’s side.” In her life Renee was an avid artist, a veterinary technician specializing in large animal trauma, a pilot, a bodyguard for hire with a black belt who preferred a Colt 1911 over “girly” guns, and a volunteer GED teacher. A devoted mother, she raised her son Luke Nix and daughter Magdalena Hunter to be strong and true to their word, and later doted on her stepdaughter Kira Cantrell. In her personal time she enjoyed telling you the 1970s MOPARs were the best cars and studying and debating military history and politics, vehemently opposing our current political trajectory. She loved watching Highlander (the first movie, not the heretical sequels), Casablanca, Conan, Tombstone, and Game of Thrones. She was a black-hatted cowboy hero at heart, a lover of lost causes who baked cookies and taught her family to be good and just and fight the good fight to the end. For the past 16 years Renee also served as a volunteer retiree benefits counselor on multiple military bases. This extensive service culminated in her selection by the Maxwell Air Force Base commander as the director of retiree support, serving as the program manager leading a team of volunteers in support of more than 60,000 retirees and families across Alabama, a position she held until she passed. She received constant accolades and recognition for her service, including quarterly and annual awards from the Air Force. Though she did not wear a uniform, she fully embodied the military’s core values of integrity, service, and excellence. She is survived by her husband and her three children. Her loss in their lives is incalculable. Visitation and service will be held at 10am Wednesday at White Chapel Funeral Home in Greenwood Cemetery in Montgomery, 334-272-3181. A bagpiper will lead her in one final dance.

Services

  • Visitation Wednesday, October 31, 2018
  • Graveside Celebration of Life Wednesday, October 31, 2018
REMEMBERING

Renee Henley Cantrell

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FROM THE FAMILY
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Renee & Maggie out and about

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Renee, Christmas 1959

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