Hoke County’s longtime coroner and funeral home founder G. Franklin Crumpler, the longest-serving elected official in the United States who outlived his own office, died Friday, May 26, 2023 at the age of 88.
With approximately 62 years in the record book as Hoke County Coroner, Crumpler was known as the longest-serving elected official in the United States. He even outlived his own elected office when the state dissolved the position of county coroner.
Crumpler was appointed coroner for Hoke County in 1960 after the serving coroner moved out of the county. He served the previous coroner’s unexpired term for three years and then ran for election to the office. He won all of his re-election campaigns thereafter, and was most recently re-elected coroner in 2018.
Crumpler continued to hold the office of Hoke County Coroner until 2022, when the last remaining county coroner offices in North Carolina dissolved due to a decision from the General Assembly.
At the time only Hoke, Avery, Bladen and Montgomery counties in North Carolina still had a county coroner. A bill in the State House of Representatives dissolved the office in those final remaining counties. The officials serving in those offices were given the option to run out the clock on their final terms, with Crumpler’s last term ending in 2022.
Crumpler said in 2020, after learning of the news that his office would no longer be an elected position, ”I accomplished what I wanted to do in being the longest-serving elected official in the United States.”
His record set a new high bar for public servants. “It’s going to be hard for somebody to beat that I think,” Crumpler told the News-Journal in June 2020.
Besides serving as coroner for more than 60 years, Crumpler also briefly assumed the duties of Hoke County Sheriff. Upon the death of then-Sheriff Dr. Hubert Peterkin in 2021, Crumpler, still county coroner at age 87, was next in line to assume the duties of sheriff under North Carolina state statute until the county commissioners appointed an interim.
Crumpler was born in Sampson County, where he attended and graduated from Clinton High School. He later graduated from the Cincinnati College of Embalming, known today at the Cincinnati College of Mortuary Science. He served in the North Carolina National Guard.
The Crumpler family moved to Raeford where Crumpler founded Crumpler Funeral Home. The business grew and today Crumpler Funeral Home serves families from far and wide, with locations in Raeford, Aberdeen and Red Springs.
Crumpler was especially well-known and loved in the community for his sense of humor.
“If I weren’t so bashful, I could talk to people. I’m very bashful,” he once joked with a newspaper reporter.
Crumpler was a member and lifetime deacon of Raeford Baptist Church. Besides his service with the church and at the funeral home that bears his name, he was also active in the Shriners, Masons, Raeford-Hoke Chamber of Commerce and the Raeford Kiwanis Club. He was known as a talented auctioneer who honed the craft at the Missouri Auction School in Kansas City.
Crumpler remained incredibly active in the community in his later years. In 2019 he started a restaurant, “Frank’s Place,” as a hobby. The eatery he started continues today under a new owner and different name.
Crumpler received many accolades, including the Order of the Long-Leaf Pine from the North Carolina Governor’s Office. At the award ceremony in October 2015, Fayetteville City Councilman Bill Crisp praised Crumpler for his public service.
“Every now and then a man comes, a man who serves his community with unswerving loyalty…His imprint is indelibly etched in the sands of time within this community and in this county, and so we honor him for his unusually long history of public service, and we honor him for the man he is. Every now and then a man, a true man, comes,” Crisp said at the time.
Crumpler is survived by his wife of 66 years, Dayne Capps Crumpler and their three children Kemp Crumpler (Margaret), Kel Crumpler (Kim), and Kalen Crumpler Wilhide (Rick), all of Raeford; and 11 grandchildren, and 19 great-grandchildren.
See his obituary for more details.