SGT James Anthony Candley was born on November 5, 1958 in El Dorado, Arkansas to Rev. James Willie Candley and Dorothy Daniels Lewis. At an early age, he accepted Jesus Christ as his Savior and joined Freewill Baptist Church. He was a faithful member and a Deacon. He found joy in preparing his Freewill family breakfast every Sunday morning. He sung in the male choir and drove the church van. He visited members at home and assisted them with odd jobs, like cutting down trees. He was the handyman and did whatever he could to assist Pastor McGhee. When illness prevented him from being present, he sent gifts on Mother’s Day. He would also call-in during service to pray over speakerphone.
James graduated from Job Corps in Guthrie, Oklahoma in 1977. He then went on to join the Army the same year. He later transitioned to the Army Reserve. He was a member of the 3rd Brigade 153rd Infantry Arkansas National Guard. For over 20 years, he was a loyal employee at El Dorado Concrete Service. Although he wasn’t the boss, he was the boss! He had other odds and ends jobs. If there was anything you needed to know, you could come to him and find out. He assisted his sisters with the family business, Candley’s Cookin’. He made a grill and named it “Michael & TC”, in memory of his big brothers. He knew his way around the grill, sometimes even setting it on fire. The family joked that he kept reaching hell’s temperatures at times. He also served food to the community with the family on the Candley’s lot. His personality was just like his homemade barbeque sauce; sweet, bold, and spicy with an extra kick. There was always an extra kick!
James loved the outdoors. He spent his leisure time hunting and fishing. He took pride in teaching younger generations how to do various things. He had a hand in raising many children, who were not his own; although, you would never know it by looking. If a child was in his presence, they would quickly learn respect and feel loved at the same time. He never met a stranger and welcomed everybody with kindness.
In 1978, James married Renee Shelby. Their union was blessed with one child, Rosezetta. In 1983, James married Nellie Sheppard-Anderson.
Anthony transitioned from this life into his Father’s arms on November 5, 2021, at his home on his birthday. He is preceded in death by his parents; his brothers, Michael Candley, Sr. and Tommy Candley; his sister, Ruth Candley-McElroy; his grandson, Jor’Darrion Anderson; and his great-granddaughter, Makayla Anderson.
Big Anthony’s memories will be cherished by his wife of 37 years, Nellie Candley; two daughters, Rosezetta Candley-Audu of San Diego, CA and Lille Mae Anderson of El Dorado, AR; four sons, Benny Anderson and David Anderson of Junction City, AR, Anthony Anderson of Kansas City, MS, Marvin Anderson Grady, AR; special mom, Pearlie Candley; seven brothers, Kenneth Candley of Lawton, OK, Willie (Tamera) Candley of Laran, LA, Stevie Candley, Avery (Tironda) Meeks of Jacksonville, AR, Kevin (Donna) Candley, Eddie Meeks and Dennis Meeks of El Dorado, AR; five sisters, Valerie Candley-Lumsey, Shelia Candley-McGhee, Laura Island and Joyce Candley of El Dorado, AR, and Janice Culp of Jacksonville, AR; 21 grandchildren; many great-grandchildren; a special friend, Arthur Bridges, along with a host of nieces, nephews, cousins, and friends who will miss him dearly.
The memorial service for SGT James Anthony Candley will be held on November 11, 2021 at 11 a.m. at Freewill Baptist Church 1320 E. Faulkner in El Dorado, AR. Pastor Alvin McGhee will be officiating.