‘Mr. Hertford County’

Published 10:11 am Tuesday, February 16, 2016

AHOSKIE – Don Craft is being remembered by friends and colleagues with great affection for his hard work on behalf of his great love for Hertford County and its citizens.

The 83-year-old Craft, who served for 16 years as Hertford County Manager, died Friday, Feb. 12.

Don Craft

Don Craft

County Commissioner Johnnie Ray Farmer served with Craft in his early years on the board.

“He was a good friend of my dad’s,” Farmer said, “and he was still county manager when I was first on the board.

“He taught me county government and the job of county commissioners,” Farmer added. “Don and (the now late) DuPont Davis were my mentors.”

Farmer had stayed in contact with Craft, bringing him lunch on occasion so they could discuss politics and county happenings.

“He would school me at our lunches,” Farmer said. “He really meant a lot to me.

“Don really loved Herford County,” he added. “You couldn’t find anyone who cared more about Hertford County. He was a mighty fine man.”

Farmer said when he first became a county commissioner, Craft had shown him a drawing of a new county courthouse and said it needed to be built because the county really needed it.

It didn’t happen during Craft’s tenure, but the new courthouse has now been built, “not where Don would have put it and it doesn’t look like the drawings he used to show me, but it has now been built,” Farmer noted.

Farmer said he would still go visit with Craft and bring him a Tarheel pork chop, but hadn’t been there in the past few months.

“I was planning to do that soon,” he said, “but now I won’t get that chance. I’m going to miss him.”

County Commissioner Curtis Freeman also had fond memories of Craft. Freeman became a county commissioner before Craft retired.

“Don Craft was a man who truly cared about Hertford County and it citizens,” Freeman said. “He did everything he could do for the citizens of this county.”

Freeman said that as a rookie county commissioner, he could count on Craft to sit down with him to explain the agenda items in detail that made clear the details so he could better formulate a vote on the issues.

“His door was always open,” Freeman said. “I relied on him for information.

“When I’d go sit down with him for information,” Freeman said, “he’d always start it off with the legal information I needed to make an informed decision.”

Freeman reiterated, “He loved Hertford County and its citizens. He took care of home first. He always made recommendations that he thought were in the best interests of Hertford County’s citizens.

“I hate that Don is gone,” Freeman said. “Sometimes you pray that someone gets better. God doesn’t make mistakes. Sometimes God decides the healing has to take place on the other side.”

Current County Manager Loria Williams took Craft’s position after he retired, so she did not get to work with him, but praised him for the fine condition he left the office in.

“He had a real love for it, that’s clear,” she said. “He left some big shoes to fill. He was also well-loved and was known as a very kind man.

“It was with great sadness that I heard of his passing,” Williams said.

Craft, a native of Greene County, was a 1955 graduate of NC State University with a degree in Agricultural Engineering. Upon graduation he went to work with the John Deere Company.

He moved his family to Ahoskie in 1961 where he owned and operated H&V Equipment Company.

His initial involvement in local politics came when he was elected as a Hertford County Commissioner in 1982.

Eight years later he was named as the Hertford County Manager and served in that capacity for 16 years until his retirement in 2005.

He was a member of Ahoskie United Methodist Church where he sang in the choir and taught Sunday School.