Morris L. Crafton, founder of industrial furnace and oven manufacturer Thermcraft Inc., passed away Feb. 14 at the age of 93. Nearly 50 years ago in January 1971, Morris and his wife, Clara, opened Thermcraft in Winston-Salem, N.C., on the principal of providing the best customer service available in the thermal-processing industry.

Morris served in the U.S. Navy during World War II. When he returned home, he attended Wingate College and earned a degree in mechanical engineering. After college, he was called again to serve his country during the Korean War.

At the age of 45, Morris Crafton secured a small warehouse in downtown Winston-Salem and began making replacement heating elements for industrial and laboratory furnace applications. He handled the manufacturing duties while Clara managed the financial and administrative tasks. Thermcraft was moved to its current facility in 1979. Through new product development and various acquisitions, the Craftons began to grow Thermcraft into the company it is today.

Morris eventually turned Thermcraft over to his son Tom, but that didn’t stop him from being involved in the day-to-day business.  He continued to drive himself to work well into his 90s, making mail runs and performing other tasks. Morris enjoyed a daily walk through the factory, talking to his employees and staying on top of what was going on within the company.