The Daily

A West Virginia School Of Excellence

Papoo Crofton transferred from Ohio Northern University to the prestigious Foreign Service School at Georgetown University in 1927, where he drove a cab to put himself through Law School.

He went home to West Virginia and was elected Prosecuting Attorney for Wood County in 1936. He was a union man, a champion of the underdog – even in sports.

When I came of age, at least old enough to help with the chores and change out the opera records on the stereo (usually set to maximum volume so that we could hear it outside) he had me out to the Farm. I was usually tasked with physical duties like raking out the pond scum from the lake, mowing and shucking oysters for the motley crew he entertained (Injun Joe, Eddy Gillespie and the rest of Wood County’s outcasts). Papoo was for the Jesuits and against bullies. He took it as a matter of religious faith that there was beauty in the worst of us.

A good and loyal Democrat, he was invited to the inaugural for LBJ. He even had a well worn Spiro Agnew dartboard on the Farmhouse Porch.

He loved art, books, music, history, poetry and sports. He knew them all better than anyone I ever met. He was a world traveler  – on one of his famous solo voyages to the Olympics (Munich in the ’70’s), terrorists attacked and held Israeli athletes hostage. It was a jarring thing to him – an act of political hate and violence on the worlds’ stage for peace and athletic achievement. He recounted the event often, describing it in terms that laid bare the scars that terror can leave on those in its close proximity.

One of the proudest moments of my life was having him attend my graduation at W&L, where he mingled easily with celebrity professors like Clark Mollenhoff: two giants of my young world, both fixed in my mind for their commitment to truth and justice. I was a little awestruck in the moment – unexpected and brief as it was. I was taken out of my own head and revelry of the day and made a simple witness to the coming together of these two grizzled old men who had seen war and more terrible things. Mollenhoff was a disciple of Lincoln Steffens, the famous muckraking investigative journalist. I’d taken just about every course he taught at W&L, emboldening a fascination with politics started in my family by Papoo. In my Grandfather, the Profesor found a kindred spirit – who knew how to make friends wherever he went. We stood on the balcony of the Alexander Withrow House in Lexington, Virginia and celebrated our lives, the lives of our families and friends, the life of the body politic and the lives of people we hadn’t yet met.