By L.A. Williams, Correspondent
Christian Action League
May 13, 2014
ASHEBORO — Less than a week after a too-close-to-call primary for a Democratic shot at North Carolina’s 2nd Congressional District, 71-year-old candidate Keith Crisco died at his home Monday following a fall.
Details were sketchy regarding the 1 p.m. incident on Thayer Drive in Asheboro, as the cause of death hasn’t yet been determined by the state medical examiner. But though information was lacking, the mournful response from both political allies and opponents was not.
“I knew Keith Crisco,” said Rev. Mark Creech, director of the Christian Action League. “He was a decent human being, always gracious, easy to converse with. And, when I would speak with him, I didn’t ever feel that he was patronizing or condescending. He seemed genuinely interested in my point of view. I am shocked and saddened to hear of this unexpected turn of events. I’ll be praying for his family.”
“…The people of Randolph County and North Carolina have lost a statesman, a leader, a friend and a true public servant,” Jim Meredith, chairman of the Randolph County Democratic Party, told The Courier-Tribune. “Keith was a successful businessman who loved his family and his fellow human beings. To all who knew him, Keith’s life taught volumes about courtesy, friendship and service. We all grieve Keith’s passing, but our thoughts and prayers especially go out to (his wife) Jane and the Crisco family at this sad time.”
A native of Aquadale in Stanly County, Crisco started Asheboro Elastics Company in 1986. The business now employs nearly 200 people. He served on the Asheboro City Council from 2003 to 2009, and was tapped by Gov. Bev Perdue as Secretary of the N.C. Department of Commerce in 2008. He also served on a host of non-profit boards.
“He was always looking forward asking what can we do next in our city, in our state and at his company. He will be missed,” Bonnie Renfro, president of the Randolph County Economic Development Corporation told the media.
Crisco was 369 votes behind his primary opponent Clay Aiken as a final count neared in the May 6 vote, and those close to his campaign said he planned to concede the election Tuesday morning. Vote totals on election night showed the former “American Idol” star at 40.83 percent and Crisco at 39.54. Had the canvass brought Aiken’s percentage below 40, Crisco could have called for a runoff.
Aiken announced he was suspending all campaign activities to pray for Crisco’s family and friends.
“Keith came from humble beginnings. No matter how high he rose — to Harvard, to the White House and to the Governor’s Cabinet — he never forgot where he came from. He was a gentleman, a good and honorable man and an extraordinary public servant. I was honored to know him,” he told the media.
Incumbent Renee Ellmers (R) released a statement calling Crisco’s kindness and dedication to his principles “models we should all strive toward.”
“I am deeply saddened by this sudden and painful tragedy and wish God’s blessings for Keith’s family through the coming days,” Ellmers added.