Marion County shows up to honor Sheriff Craft

Sheriff Robert Craft had been the Marion County Sheriff since 2008. He died on Wednesday, Feb. 16.

Images Craft homecoming (all Karrie Rathbone)

Sheriff Craft was brought home and honored with an escort to Marion from Topeka by the Kansas Highway Patrol and his own Marion County Sheriff’s Department.

Marion County was in shock Wednesday night as news traveled that Marion County Sheriff Robert Craft had died at 6:30 p.m. that evening.

The news was announced in a press release written by undersheriff Larry Starkey and stated that Sheriff Robert Craft passed away that evening and funeral arrangements were pending.

It stated, “His family and the Marion County Sheriff’s Office appreciate all the prayer and positive thoughts.”

The Marion County Sheriff’s Office posted the press release on their Facebook page saying, “Rest easy, Sir. We have the watch from here.”

Craft died after battling COVID-19 for nine days. He died at Stormont Vail Hospital in Topeka where he had been transferred from Newton Medical Center.

The Marion County Sheriff’s Office later announced that Craft would be brought home that evening around 11:30 p.m.

“KHP and MNCO SO [Marion County Sheriff’s Office] will be escorting the late retired KHP and current Marion County Sheriff Rob Craft back to Marion tonight at approximately 2330hrs. Please show respect for Rob and support to Jan and Shaun along with the rest of his family. We will gather on East Main tonight to bring Sheriff Craft home. Thank you all,” said the post.

By 11 p.m. Main Street in Marion was lined with people as well as lighted emergency vehicles—including various fire departments, EMS, Hillsboro Police Department and Marion Police Department —as many from all over the county showed up to pay their respects. While people visited and greeted each other, the mood was very somber and subdued. It began raining before the escort arrived in town but let up a bit around 11:40 p.m. as close to 30 law enforcement vehicles flooded into Marion. The line of cars quickly went through and everyone dispersed. Within 10 minutes of the escort arriving in town, but after everyone had left, the weather shifted to sleet, hail and rain.

Many posted videos and other tributes on social media.

Craft had served as the Marion County Sheriff since 2008. He was currently in the middle of his fourth term as sheriff.

Craft joined the United States Marine Corps in 1976. He served in the Marine Corps until 1980 when he went to the Kansas Highway Patrol Academy. When he graduated from the academy, he was stationed in Marion where he served with the KHP for 27 years. He retired from the KHP as a firearms and ordinance instructor in 2007. He successfully ran for the office of Sheriff of Marion County after he retired and has served since then.

He is survived by his wife Jan, son Shaun, his grandchildren and other family members.

The memorial service for Sheriff Craft will be held at 10:30 a.m. on February 26 at the Marion Sports and Aquatic Center located at 100 N Thorp St, Marion, KS 66861. There will be a funeral procession following the memorial service from there to the Marion Cemetery. The memorial service is being live-streamed for those who can’t attend at youtube.com/mctv20live.

Yazel Megli Funeral Home is serving the family. A memorial book will be available to sign for Robert Craft at the funeral home from 9 am to 4 pm Monday through Friday. Or sign his online guestbook and leave a memory at www.yazelmeglifh.com.

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