County officials are still reeling following the news of the death of a long-time county commissioner.
Former commissioner Craig Hunter died Monday afternoon after a three-year battle with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), commonly known as Lou Gehrig's disease.
Hunter, 48, served the Mount Airy district on the board from 2002-2010.
Current board Chairman Eddie Harris said Hunter served as an example to be followed.
“(He) was a dedicated and passionate elected officials whose greatest legacy as a county commissioner was his support for public education,” Harris said. “I know many of the current and former county commissioners and employees feel fortunate to have had the opportunity to work with him.”
It was a sentiment echoed by Commissioner Paul Johnson, who served with Hunter for eight years.
“He was a great man,” Johnson said quietly. “He took his position very, very seriously, and had a passion for the citizens of Surry County like no one I've ever met.”
Johnson said he was uncharacteristically at a loss for words.
“It's just one of those things where you don't really know what to say,” he said. “He was such a good friend to me and had gone through so much over the past few years it's almost like I've lost a brother.”
Hunter was “a truly great man,” Johnson added.
“He will be very much missed, not only by his family, but by the people who knew him and knew what he was about,” he said. “He leaves a great void in Surry County. My thoughts and prayers go out to his family and my life is better for having been associated with him.”
Hunter served on the county board from December 2002, until December 2010. During his tenure, he served as the chairman from 2006 until 2009.
In addition to serving on the county board, Hunter also served on the Criminal Justice Partnership, Juvenile Crime Prevention Committee, the board of trustee for Northern Hospital, the Rural Planning Organization Transportation Committee, the Workforce Development Consortium, the board of directors for the Piedmont Triad Partnership, the county building and grounds committee, the social services board and the Mount Airy-Surry County Liaison Committee.
During his tenure, the county advanced funding for public education completed construction of both Rockford Elementary and Pilot Mountain Middle schools.
Hunter stepped away from public life shortly after being diagnosed with ALS, a progressive neurodegenerative disease affecting the nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord that control voluntary muscle movement.
His funeral is scheduled for First Baptist Church in Mount Airy at 11 a.m. on Thursday.
Reach Keith Strange at firstname.lastname@example.org or 719-1929.