Our favorite ‘Santa’

Published 9:20 pm Saturday, December 12, 2009

Santa Claus didn’t die on Monday of this week, but one his St. Nick’s best helpers did see his work completed here on Earth.

The Roanoke-Chowan area lost its favorite “Santa” on Dec. 7 with the passing of Carroll S. Credle Jr. of Windsor. He was 75.

Many locals, the young and the young at heart, will only remember Credle as Santa’s helper, but his legacy is also wrapped around education. Long before he sat children on his knee and inquired of their Christmas wish lists, he stood before them in the classroom as an educator and later in the front office as a school administrator.

He also proudly served his country in the military, working as a M.P. while stationed overseas.

However, his greatest love over the last 18 years of life was placing huge smiles on the faces of children. His portrayal of the Jolly Old Elf from the North Pole was unequaled. He gladly gave of himself during this special time of the year, making “Santa” appearances at various churches, schools, functions, family gatherings and parades. He never charged a single dime for this service…that fact alone speaks volumes about his community spirit.

He played the role using plenty of props…Santa’s traditional red suit and a special key used to access the homes he visited, but his snow white hair and long beard were real.

He delivered toys to children of all ages, but certain rules did apply. No pets without mom’s and dad’s permission…no four-wheelers unless the children were big enough to operate those devices and no types of guns unless the parents promised to teach the children about safety.

It might not be a coincidence that his first name, Carroll, makes one think of songs sung at Christmastime… or that his surname, Credle, is a homonym for the wooden box most people picture baby Jesus lying in after his birth.

Carroll Credle was destined to fill the shoes of Santa’s helper. He did it very well and will be missed.