Paul L. Kraft, 84, Clarksville, passed away peacefully at his home on April 26, 2020 following a hard-fought battle with Parkinson's Disease.
Paul was born on March 9, 1936 in New Albany, Indiana to Melvin and Edna (Frederick) Kraft. Paul was the youngest of three children and is preceded in death by his parents, his sister, Jane Ritchie, and his brother, Robert "Bob" Kraft.
Paul is survived by his loving wife of 54 years, Nancy Jo (Courtright) Kraft, seven children; Kathy Kraft, David Kraft, Paul Kraft, Rev. Joy Kraft Lawler (Lanny), Matt Kraft (Tiffany Rea), Chris Kraft (Meredith), and Melissa Kraft Watts (Jeff); eleven grandchildren; Nicole, Konrad, Ryann, Jerrod, Jessamyn, Justice, Landon, Emma, Cole, Patrick and Dylan; and two great-grandchildren.
Following graduation from New Albany High School, Paul enlisted in the Kentucky Air National Guard when he was 17 years old. He served in the Guard from 1953-1962 where he reached the rank of Staff Sergeant. When he was 19 years old, he was given a loan by his parents to open a service station business with his brother. He and Bob opened Kraft Marathon in 1955 at the corner of Randolph and Harrison Avenues in Clarksville. Later, they opened two additional locations at the corner of Blackiston Mill Road and Hwy 131 (Lewis and Clark Parkway) and at 600 North Clark Boulevard. Eventually, the brothers were joined by a third partner and close friend, Donald Tetley, and settled on one location at 600 North Clark Boulevard where the three men ran a highly successful full-service Marathon filling station and a 24-hour wrecker service. A third branch of the business was started in the 1970's to combat the petroleum crisis. The trio drove contract school buses for local school corporations, and Paul was best know for driving buses 3-J and 20-J for Greater Clark County Schools, particularly Jeffersonville High School and River Valley Middle School, for over 40 years. Paul retired from self-employment after 61 years when he was 80 years old.
Paul was a true public servant and statesman. He began his service to the people of Clark County, Indiana as Captain of the McCulloch Volunteer Fire Department and was Director of Southeast Public Relations for the Indiana Volunteer Firefighter's Association. He was appointed to the Indiana Personnel Standards Board and Education Commission by Governor Orr, and he served with the U.S. Marshals Service assisting with prisoner transfers. Paul was a founding member of the Clarksville Police Auxiliary (Reserves) where he was appointed Chief; a position that his son, Chris, holds today.
Paul was a life-long Democrat and was proud to represent the people of Clarksville and Clark County in elected offices and as a Precinct Committeeman. Paul was elected to the Clark County Council where he served for 10 years. Perhaps, however, he viewed his work as a member of the Clarksville Town Council as his most important. He served on the Council for 20 years. In his tenure, Paul was Council President and Vice President, and he was also a Clarksville Police Commissioner. Paul helped develop the Veteran's Parkway Corridor, and supported revitalization projects on Eastern Boulevard and Lewis and Clark Parkway. These and many other projects propelled Clarksville forward with economic growth and prosperity, a legacy that will live on past his time.
Paul was an active member of Wall Street United Methodist Church in Jeffersonville. He loved watching television (especially Indiana Hoosiers Basketball), his Yorkies, Buckingham and Bentley, and going on Friday night "Tours of Clarksville" in the car with Nancy. Paul was a man who taught others by example the values of humility, hard work and perseverance. He will be missed by all those who loved him.
The family would like to thank Kindred Hospice RN Cassie and CNA Amber for their careful and loving care of Paul over the last 18 months.
A private graveside ceremony and burial will take place on Wednesday, April 29, 2020. A memorial service celebrating Paul's life and legacy will be held at a later date when all who wish to honor him can properly pay their respects. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions can be made to Wall Street United Methodist Church on Paul's behalf. Chapman Funeral Home has been entrusted with arrangements. Online condolences may be made at www.chapmanfuneralhome.net
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