Joe Clinton Kraft died April 10, 2011, at Washington Regional Medical Center in Fayetteville, Ark. He was born on Jan. 23, 1924, in Nevada, to parents Henry and Pauline Farmer Kraft. His parents; a brother, Henry Kraft Jr.; and a sister, Nancy Kraft, preceded him in death. He graduated from Nevada High School in 1941 and from KU in 1948.
In 1944, he married Dorothy Bewley at All Saints' Episcopal Church in Nevada. Their three children are, Clint Kraft and wife, Janet, Olathe, Kan., Sally Kraft Sandy and husband, Frank, Eureka, Mo., and Paula Kraft Neal, Farmington, Ark. Their grandchildren are Lindsey Kraft, Adam Sandy, Laura Sandy, Sarah Jewell, mother of great-grandson Luke Jewell, Amy Neal and Clint Neal; also surviving are Brian Jewell and Tomoko Sano Sandy, spouses of their grandchildren. Also surviving are his niece, Anne Kraft Gray of Oklahoma City, Okla., and his nephew, Hank Kraft of Edmond, Okla., and their families.
Joe graduated from Nevada High School, attended Wentworth Military Academy and graduated from the University of Kansas.
During World War II he enlisted in the U.S. Army Reserve and was called to active duty in 1943. After training in an Infantry Replacement Training Center Battalion he was transferred to the Army Air Force and sent to the University of Chattanooga. He became an armorer/gunner and was promoted to staff sergeant. In the South Pacific Theater he flew 43 missions with the 13th Air Force as a ball turret gunner on a B-24 Bomber. He was awarded the Air Medal with two bronze stars, Asiatic Pacific Service Medal, Philippine Liberation Ribbon with one Bronze Star and six Battle Ribbons. He was a member of one of the few air crews that flew two missions between the dropping of the first and second atomic bombs.
Upon graduation from the University of Kansas he started his business career as an accountant with Stanolind Oil And Gas Co. The family moved to Nevada in 1950 when Joe joined Henry Kraft Mercantile Co. He became President of the firm upon the death of his father.
He soon became active in the business community and joined the Rotary Club, serving as a board member. He was a member of the City Council for seven years and acted as mayor during that time. He was very active in city government and the Chamber of Commerce of which he was president in 1965. He was vice president of Eastgate Development Co., which established the Village Mall and owned the Village Market. He also was one of a group which built the Nevada Medical Clinic building. In 1963, he was appointed a member of the State of Missouri Commission on Local Government.
When president of the Chamber of Commerce, he was asked by the Missouri Public Service Co. to spearhead a committee to work with 3M. This work resulted in the decision by 3M to locate in Nevada.
He was on the Board of the Thornton National Bank, then of Charter Bank, then Boatmens Bank. He was a board member of Mid-Missouri Bancshares Inc.
He was Citizen of the Year 1966 and Co-Chair of the Nevada Charter Committee. Joe was a Paul Harris Fellow, and received the Pacesetter Award in 1999. He and his wife, Dorothy, redeveloped seven buildings in East Nevada which resulted in the major development of the area.
Joe was a former Board Member of the Nevada Country Club, also a former member and president of the NRMC Foundation. He became president of the Nevada Historical Society in 1995 and helped guide the Society in the expansion of the Bushwhacker Museum which turned it into a valuable asset and tourist attraction for Vernon County.
He was a member of the YMCA, and in addition to using the facilities regularly, enjoyed the companionship of the 5:30 a.m. YMCA Coffee Club.
Joe was a lifelong and faithful member of All Saints' Episcopal Church. He served as an Acolyte, Lay Reader, Chalice Bearer, and Senior Warden of the Vestry.
Joe took great pride in Nevada city government, having served on many committees. He received several state wide Certificates of Appreciation for his service to his community, including recognition from the Missouri Municipal League and Mayor Cervantes of St. Louis.
A memorial service will be held at All Saints' Episcopal Church on Saturday, May 14th. The family suggests memorials be sent to All Saints' Episcopal Church, Box 456, Nevada, or Vernon County Historical Society, 212 W. Walnut, Nevada, or the charity of your choice.