MINIS COLUMN: Foreign service worker traveled globe

Liberia, where this 1970 photograph was taken, is one of the countries where Carol Craft worked during her foreign service career.

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Carol Craft loved serving the United States in many countries. The work began when the Pennsylvania native took a civil service test in high school. Then came recruitment by the CIA for a clerical position after graduation. She continued in administrative positions after moving to the foreign service years later.

Craft's assignments took her to places such as Liberia, Nigeria, Libya, Cyprus, the Philippines, Italy, Colombia, Ecuador and Bahrain. As a divorced mother for most of her career, she shared life abroad with her two daughters, Carmen Ellison, who lives in Washington state, and Michelle Block of Summerville.

She continued working for the government for 34 years. She received awards and appreciation, and the service afforded her a lifestyle not found in the United States, says Block. When serving in Bahrain, she was the secretary to the U.S. ambassador.

Craft died Aug. 15 at 66.

'A lot of time the pay played a big role in the post she selected,' Block says.

Craft tended to select hardship posts because the pay was higher. The additional money allowed her to provide extras that her girls might not otherwise have, such as a housekeeper who could teach them the native language.

'One place I always wanted to go to was Australia, but it was not a hardship post,' Block says.

While working in Virginia during her last foreign service job before retiring in 1999, Craft decided to become a school bus driver once her government career ended, says her sister, Veronica Kelly, also of Summerville. She moved to South Carolina from Virginia in 2004 and within a month or two started driving buses, says Block.

'She had the special needs kids,' Kelly says. 'She just loved it. She really enjoyed being with those kids.'

Driving the bus, first downtown, then in Lincolnville and later in North Charleston, provided a kind of experience her mother had not had, Block says. Her mother was looking forward to going back to work.When she discovered she was too ill to return, she was saddened because she would not see the children again.

Block rode the bus with her mother and the students a couple of times, she says. The children enjoyed getting on the bus and seeing her mother's smile.

'She was an awesome person,' says Jeanette Altemose, general manager for Durham School Services, who will remember Craft for her pleasant personality and love of zebra prints. 'I had the pleasure of working with her for about five years. We will truly miss her.'

Craft's illness led Block to establish pancreatic cancer awareness efforts, featured at

www.facebook.com/groups/ACureForCarol and www.youtube.com/user/EcuaDistributors?feature=mhee.

Reach Wevonneda Minis at 937-5705 or wminis@postandcourier.com.