Cortland M. Major, age 69, of Lansing, MI, passed away June 9, 2017.
Cortland started his life in rural Howell, Michigan, one of five children. Feeling the call of adventure and desiring to serve his country, Cortland signed up for the Navy at the age of 17. Making his way back to Michigan at the age of 22, Cortland met the love of his life in a record store. They married shortly after and had six children together.
Cortland Major was many things. Minister, carpenter, avid reader, gardener, brother, son, uncle, grandfather, husband, and friend. But the defining role of his life, the task for which he was uniquely gifted, was Father.
Cortland devoted his life to his children. When he became a single father at 35, he passed up the nights out, vacations, and freedom from responsibility many men of similar circumstances would have gladly embraced, choosing instead to be a single father at a time when that was extremely rare. He sacrificed his free time, his energy, his youth, (and certainly all of his money!) to raise six free-spirited, hard headed, and sometimes difficult children. He worked overtime to make sure his kids had a roof over their heads and food to eat. Cortland also became surrogate father to many of his children’s friends. All of them at one time or another had a friend move in; sometimes for a few weeks, sometimes for a year or more. He never asked questions, only spreading his wings of protection over anyone in need.
It wasn’t unusual for Cortland to run to the store for a gallon of milk and come back with milk and a homeless person in need of human kindness. He would give anyone a seat at his table, a warm meal, the clothes off his back, whatever money he had in his pocket, and most importantly, prayers.
Once an avid hunter, while on his last hunting trip Cortland found two baby deer snuggled up to their dead mother that had been shot but never tracked. That day, he didn’t come home with the buck he’d set out for, but instead two deer too weak and hungry to stand. Cortland bought some artificial turf and set up a pen in the living room, hand feeding the deer with bottles of milk until they were strong enough to transfer to a local wildlife rescue.
Cortland Major was as strong as he was kind, more so than most human beings. He never backed down from voicing his opinion, railing against injustice wherever he saw it no matter how big or small–for as he taught his kids–principles are everything. His kids are proud that among them all, not one ever witnessed a time that Dad saw something unjust and did nothing. Cortland Major wasn’t afraid of anybody! He stood up against those that mistreated others, and stood up for those that couldn’t do so for themselves. He taught his kids and grandkids to be strong and kind, work hard, pull their own weight, fiercely love their country, and most importantly, to trust God with all of their hearts.
Cortland Major touched more lives than his family ever realized. They knew the wonderful man he was to them, but it was through the stories of friends and even strangers after his death that they realized what he was to the world around him. Beyond his courage, kindness, work ethic, principles, and unshakeable faith, Cortland was also more humble than any man of his human accomplishments should be. He was truly a giant of a man. And while the earth has lost a bright light, Heaven has gained a heavyweight of an angel.
A memorial service will be held at 2:00 p.m. on Thursday, June 15, 2017, at the Estes-Leadley Greater Lansing Chapel. His family will receive friends beginning at 1:00 p.m. on Thursday at the funeral home. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the Humane Society of Michigan or the VFW National Home for Children in Eaton Rapids.