Master Sgt. James Millard Craven, U.S. Army (ret.), passed away Tuesday, Feb. 11, 2020, in Pinebluff.
James was born on July 17, 1930, in Jackson Springs. He was the son of the late James C. Craven, a sharecropper, and Martha Pusser Craven. In addition to his parents he was preceded in death by his first wife, Kathleen Freeman Craven; and his second wife, Lois Martin Craven; sister, Ruby Craven Cooke, and two brothers, William Wade Craven and Earl Caldwell Craven; half-sister, Alice Pusser Craven and his son, Richard C. Craven.
He is survived by his three children: Donna Craven Buies, Stephen M. Craven and Jennifer Craven Downs. He is also survived by 10 grandchildren and many great-grandchildren.
Mr. Craven graduated from Ellerbe High School, in Richmond County, in 1948. He enlisted in the U.S. Army three days before graduation and volunteered for Airborne training. He served for 21 years, retiring in 1970. While in the Army, he served in Korea and Vietnam and in Europe-Germany for four years. He retired as a master sargeant/RO First LT. and master parachutist.
In 1972, he founded Carolina Galvanizing Corporation with three men and a wheelbarrow. He was elected to the National Board of Directors of the National Hot Dip Galvanizing Association by his peers in 1975. In 1977, he added a copper plating facility, which manufactured copper plated grounding rods for the electrical utility industry. In 1981, the corporation was sold to Erico Corporation of Ohio. At this time, Carolina Galvanizing had galvanizing plants in North and South Carolina, and Georgia which had over 350 employees. In 1977, Mr. Craven was elected a county commissioner of Moore County. As county commissioner he was instrumental in establishing the position of county manager for the government for the first time.
He was elected to the N.C. House of Representatives in 1980, the biggest upset in Moore County’s political history, defeating T. Clyde Auman. Mr. Craven became the first Republican from Moore County to be elected to the N.C. House of Representatives since reconstruction, service from 1980-1990. He also served as co-chairman with State Representative Joe Hege, of Davidson County, traveling and organizing the vote across the state for presidential candidates, George H.W. Bush and Ronald Reagan.
In 1983, he worked in Charlotte full time to help elect James Martin as governor. He was appointed by Gov. Martin as chairman of the Governor’s Military Advisory Commission, serving for eight years.
In 1988, Mr. Craven and State Representative Robert Grady, of Onslow County, founded Team Pac (to elect a majority) which defeated 16 Democrats and elected 16 Republicans to the N.C. House. In Moore County and State Republican politics, he served as precinct chairman, county chairman and on the State Executive Committee of the Republican party. He belonged to the Presidential Task Force, chaired by Senator Dick Luger from 1983-1988. The Presidential Task Force worked to elect Ronald Reagan, President, and increase the number of Republicans in Congress. He also belonged to Jesse Helms Congressional Club. He was a member of Pinebluff Methodist Church. He served as Scout Master of BSA Troop 26 of Pinebluff for several years. Mr. Craven was also a Master Mason and a 32nd degree Shriner.
A funeral service will be held Monday, Feb. 17, at 1 p.m. at Ives Memorial Baptist Church in Pinebluff with Pastor Virgil Dwyer officiating. The family will receive friends prior to the funeral from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the church. Burial with full military honors will follow at Ellerbe Cemetery in Ellerbe.
Memorial contributions may be made to FirstHealth Hospice Foundation, 150 Applecross Rd., Pinehurst, NC 28374.
Online condolences may be made at www.bolesfuneralhome.com
Services entrusted to Boles Funeral Home of Southern Pines.