While he was growing up, he had always wanted to be a military pilot. So when he graduated from high school in 1946, he entered the Navy's new Holloway Plan, a program to train Naval aviators who would also be career regular Naval officers.
While he was on graduation leave in March, 1950, he decided to marry Jeanine Painter and also decided that God wanted him to become a priest. So then he began planning to leave the Navy as soon as his contract allowed.
On June 15, 1950, he received his ensign's commission. And then, ten days later North Korea invaded South Korea. He was transferred to Attack Squadron Thirty-Five aboard the carrier Leyte. From October, 1950, until January 1951, he flew close air support missions over South and North Korea.
A year later, in March, 1952, he was relieved from active duty, finished college, and then went on to seminary. He was ordained in 1957.
His wife, Jeanine, died as a result of a car wreck in 1988. In 1989, he married Margaret, the widow of Father Dale Blackwell.
He has served Episcopal churches in Pittsburg and Daingerfield, Texas, Bisbee and Tucson, Arizona, Sarasota, Florida, and Vidalia, Georgia. He retired on March 1, 2001, after seventeen years as rector of St. John's Church, Moultrie, Georgia. From May 1, 2001, until February 28, 2002, he served as interim rector of St. Stephen's, Hurst, Texas.
He has nine children by his first marriage, including Father Christopher Cantrell, SSC, rector of St. Matthias Church, Dallas. Margaret has three children from her first marriage.
His lifelong hobby is collecting the recordings of the Italian tenor, Tito Schipa. Apart from theology, his reading interests include history, biography, and airplanes.
Since August, 2002, Fr. Cantrell has served full time as canon on the staff of the Cathedral. His duties have included, especially, teaching classes in Basic Christianity for adults and other subjects; general pastoral care such as hearing confessions, visiting the sick and taking them Holy Communion; celebrating the Eucharist on weekdays; and taking his turn preaching and celebrating on Sundays.