Mother of the Year Chosen

ST. MARYS — The Evening Leader’s Mother of the Year winner, Mary Craft, is more than a mother to her daughter and son.

She opens her home to her children’s friends and that generosity, her daughter Abbey Craft said, is part of why she nominated her mother.

“She never thought it was good enough,” Abbey said. “She went above and beyond. Cookies on my birthday. She never forgets things like that.”

Growing up, Abbey said Jon, her brother, knew his friends were always welcome in the house. When there’s a flock of teens in the house, Mary Craft was known for her big breakfasts.

“Like Bob Evans,” Abbey said.

Whether they’re bonding at Myrtle Beach or if Abbey is away at school at Bowling Green, they talk to each other every day.

Mary Craft, who is from St. Marys, has a soft spot for children, her daughter said, making sure at work that every child sponsored at Christmas gets every gift on their list. She also volunteers for the Holy Rosary Festival, and helped out with after-prom.

“She always reminded us where we came from, not to get a big head,” Abbey said. “She would tell us to count our blessings.”

Abbey credited her mother with instilling in her a giving nature, kind heart, determination to finish everything she does, and confidence.

“I don’t know if I’ve ever told her that,” Abbey said.

Another thing she learned, really from both her parents, she said, was through their marriage.

“They were high school sweethearts,” Abbey said. “That showed me love can make it through a lot of things when you find the right one.”

Mary said parenthood was easy because she had good children. When she gave birth to her first child, she remembers not being able to wait to hear his voice.

However, Mary said she doesn’t believe she is the direct reason for the children being well-behaved.

“Vince (her husband) has such good work ethic,” Mary said. “He gives 110 percent. When he starts a job, he finishes it.”

Also there were grandparents and teachers involved.

“I had two great parents,” Mary said.

“I knew I wanted to be so much like them.”

Mary said she did try to teach her children right from wrong, as well as stressing politeness and respecting the older generation and their teachers.

As for opening her home to her children’s friends, Mary said that was what her mother and father had done — her brother and sister’s friends still visit her parents, she said. She had also set a lot of rules at her house, though the children didn’t seem to mind.

For her, she said, the hardest part of parenthood was letting her daughter, who is the youngest, go to college.

“I cried the entire way home,” Mary said.

“Every time she’s home, and then leaves, too.”

Now, with her children grown, she said her son and his wife are expecting their first child, which will be her first grandchild.

“It was a complete shock,” Mary said of winning Mother of the Year. “Then I cried. I just never in a million years would have thought it.”