A Sunday service is planned at the Havelock High School Performing Arts Center for former Craven County commissioner and longtime Craven County Board of Education member Leon C. Staton Sr.
Staton, 78, who lived in the Harlowe community, died Thursday at Cherry Point Bay Rehabilitation and Nursing Facility after suffering several strokes since 2007.
Family members, including one son, twin daughters and a grandson, have established a fund to help others with the problems of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, which affected Staton.
“Leon did a lot of hard work for the children of Craven County and was not only a great help to the community but this entire county,” said Linda Thomas, Board of Education vice chairman who was elected in 1992 with Staton.
Wilbur Becton, a friend and fellow community advocate, said Staton’s “personal sacrifice shows us home is truly where the heart is and we’re proud you made this your home.”
A Norfolk-Virginia Beach, Va., native, Staton married a Harlowe girl, school teacher Thelma Becton, who died in 1988. He served 23 years in the Marine Corps, which included two tours in Vietnam, retiring as a master sergeant. He later worked for Carolina Power and Light Company. And Oscar’s Mortuary.
A community activist for more than 50 years and in Craven County since the late 1970s, Staton served on the Craven County Voters League, Craven County Recreation and Parks Commission, Habitat for Humanity Advisory Board and the Havelock Communities Improvement Association, where he was active with Becton and others in transforming the old Godette School into the Harlowe Community Center.
He resigned his seat on the Craven County Board of Education in 2002 to serve out the unexpired term of former District 5 Commissioner Albert H. Toon, who died in office. In 2003, he was elected vice chairman by fellow commissioners and was awarded North Carolina’s highest civilian honor when the governor named him a member of The Order of the Longleaf Pine.
While commissioner from 2002 to 2006, Staton served on the Eastern Carolina Workforce Development Board, Civilian Military Community Council, Eastern Carolina Council of Governments, Craven-Jones-Pamlico Transportation Committee, Craven Aging Planning Board, Craven Evaluation and Training Center Board and the Havelock Library Board.
“He was instrumental in doing a lot of things for the county as a commissioner and while on the school board,” said Commissioner Johnnie Sampson, who served with Staton. “He worked hard for his community. He was dedicated. He gave up a lot of time to help those who couldn’t help themselves.”
Clerk to the Board of Commissioners, Gwendolyn Bryan said, “He was always very pleasant, appreciative and supportive of me in my role with the board.”
School Board Chairman Carr Ipock said, “Leon Staton had the heart of students and teachers in mind in all the decisions he made on the board. He had a unique personality and perspective and added a lot to the board. He tended to be a quiet person at the table, a thinker before he spoke.
“He knew what his position would be when the matter came up for a vote, but was always gracious and moved with the decision of the board even if that wasn’t his position.”
Sunday’s service is scheduled for 2 p.m. at the Havelock High Performing Arts Center.
The Alzheimer’s Foundation of America In Memoriam: Leon C. Staton site has been set up can be accessed online at ALZSDN.org. Contributions in his name may also be made by calling 1-866-232-8484 or mailing it to 322 8th Avenue, 7th Floor, New York, NY 10001.
Sue Book is a reporter for the Sun Journal.