2014 Honorary Degree Recipients
Bob H. Crafton
Bob H. Crafton grew up on a cotton farm north of Corning, in Clay County, Arkansas. He graduated from Corning High School and thought he would continue on the farm when one of his brothers, who had returned from military service in World War II, gave him the opportunity to attend college. He enrolled in the pre-engineering curriculum at Arkansas Polytechnic College (Arkansas Tech University). In 1953, he transferred to the University of Arkansas to complete his bachelor's degree in civil engineering.
Bob began his engineering career after college with the Arkansas Highway & Transportation Department, providing input on several major highway and bridge projects. Despite promising careers at AHTD, in 1963 Bob and his friend, Lem Tull, started a new engineering company in two motel rooms in downtown Rogers. Through hard work and determination, the partners expanded the business. The company has provided design services on numerous projects benefitting Northwest Arkansas, including public school and higher education facilities, industrial plants, streets, highways, bridges, residential subdivisions, multi-family developments, commercial developments, and utility infrastructure. Bob retired from Crafton Tull in 2000, but he did not retire from community service.
Bob served on the Arkansas Board of Registration for Professional Engineers and Land Surveyors, the Arkansas Academy of Civil Engineers, and is a past chairman of the Rogers-Lowell Area Chamber of Commerce. Bob served over a decade on the Rogers School Board. In 2009, Governor Mike Beebe appointed Bob to the Arkansas Department of Higher Education Coordinating Board, where he is vice chairman. Bob has long been an active member of First Baptist Church of Rogers.
In the early 1980s, Bob was one of a group of community leaders who saw the need for an additional higher education venue in Northwest Arkansas. Through years of meetings, trips to Little Rock, public outreach and a petition drive, Bob and other leaders brought the issue to a vote in the Bentonville and Rogers Public School Districts on August 15, 1989. It passed with 65 percent, establishing NorthWest Arkansas Community College.
Governor Bill Clinton appointed Bob to serve as a founding member of the NWACC Board of Trustees. Bob served on the Board for 12 years, two years as chairman. The founding trustees oversaw the growth from a "college without walls" to the construction of the first buildings. Not only has Bob given his time to the college, but he and his wife are faithful contributors to the NWACC Foundation, helping to keep the college affordable, accessible and of exceptional quality.
Bob and his wife, Bonnie, have been married 58 years. They have five children, fifteen grandchildren, and one great grandchild.
The belief in the importance of education was something EvaLena Reder Mayo acquired early in her life. A common question from her father in the evenings while she was growing up was, "Do you have any lessons to get tonight?" Her father and mother had different strengths. Her father was good with numbers and could multiply 6 figures by 6 figures in his head and get it right. Her mother, who was good with words, always had a dictionary close by to look up the meaning of a word or its pronunciation or spelling. Mrs. Mayo identified with her father's love of numbers and excelled in math.
Mrs. Mayo graduated from Springdale High School as valedictorian after only three years instead of the usual four, enrolling in the University of Arkansas the following fall. Her studies at UA were put on hold, though, by her marriage to Ben Mayo. When they started their family, she stayed at home as her children were growing up, finishing her bachelor's degree at John Brown University in 1970. She taught math and physics at Bentonville High School from 1970 to 1984, where she had a great influence on a generation of students. A student from her last year of teaching said that, "Some of the former students of BHS who have had Mrs. Mayo have told me that she prepares you very well for college." Another of her students attributes his success at the U.S. Air Force Academy to his calculus classes with Mrs. Mayo.
When Mrs. Mayo left teaching, she was not finished with education. On her retirement, she went to work with her husband in their business. She eagerly responded, though, when she was approached by the Rev. Dr. Don White about the need for a community college in Northwest Arkansas. She and other leaders researched colleges without walls and located space throughout the area where classes could be taught. They also searched for land that would be easily accessible to students from both Rogers and Bentonville so that a permanent home for the college could be established.
Mrs. Mayo served as a trustee for NorthWest Arkansas Community College from its founding in 1989 through 2001. She and her husband established an endowed scholarship named for their late daughter, Peggy Ward, and take great joy in attending the scholarship luncheon in February every year. They are also members of the Post Oak Society. It's common to hear her say of a person she admires that "he (or she) is a good kid." The same can definitely be said of EvaLena Mayo: She's a good kid.