Live Oak —
A public memorial service will be held Saturday for Porter Claude Crapps III, a respected civic leader, banker and forester, who died peacefully at his Live Oak home just days before Christmas surrounded by his family. He was 76 years old. The service is at 10:30 a.m. at the First United Methodist Church located at 311 South Ohio Ave. in Live Oak.
Claude is survived by his long-time companion, Jackie Kent Dove; his three children, Thomas and wife, Cris; Steve; Nancy; and five grandchildren. Claude is also survived by his siblings, Betsy Burch; David Crapps; Peat Crapps; Virginia Johnson; John Crapps; Dicy Hannum; and Daniel Crapps.
Claude was born in Gainesville and spent his early childhood years in Hines, a small rural community in the heart of Dixie County. The Crapps family later moved to Melrose for a short period of time before settling in Live Oak in 1951. Claude became a student at Suwannee High School where he graduated in 1955. Claude furthered his education at Clemson University in South Carolina, earning a degree in Forestry. He graduated from Clemson in 1959. It was in South Carolina that Claude discovered two lifelong passions: forestry and the Clemson Tigers.
Four years after his college graduation in 1959, Claude served this country in the United States Marines Corps, followed by six years in the Marine Reserves. While a member of the reserves, Claude returned home to Live Oak and worked with his father, Porter Claude Crapps Jr. at the First National Bank of Live Oak; the Hamilton County Bank of Jasper; and on the family's timber holdings. Claude would later become the chairman of the board of directors of both banks until the banks were sold to Barnett Banks. He continued his career with Barnett Bank as vice-president and commercial lender before he retired in 1992.
Following retirement, Claude returned to his love of forestry and “working in the woods.” Claude’s passion for forestry was evident when he was outdoors and working on his farms.
In 1968, Claude was appointed by Governor Claude Kirk to serve as member of the Florida Forestry Council. He continued to serve on the board with distinction until his death, only missing one meeting in 45 years.
Claude was publically recognized with many prestigious awards for his faithfulness and dedication to the division of forestry.
Claude’s sister, Betsy Burch, said Claude will be remembered for his passion in forestry and his love for this community.
“Claude will be long remembered as a quiet, modest person who reached out to many people in need,” Betsy said. “One of his primary interests was forestry, an industry he served in state advisory capacities for over 40 years. Although he will be missed by his family and peers, he leaves behind his footprints of service to this community and the state of Florida.”
Sherwood Boatright, a childhood friend with whom he remained close with over the years, said, “Claude was the finest person I have ever known; a fine Christian gentleman who was down to earth and everybody’s friend helping many people.”
Jackie Dove said he will be greatly missed.
"He was a fine man. A man of integrity. I was the luckiest woman in the world to have been able to spend 30 years of my life with him,” said Dove. “I will miss him greatly."
Local Realtor Ronnie Poole said Claude was a true community leader.
“He was always supportive of our community. He didn’t want to take a lot of credit for anything, but he was always working behind the scenes working to promote Suwannee County,” Poole said. “He was very sincere about making our community a better place to live. He was somebody you can count on as a friend and a community leader.”
Suwannee County Senior Forester Brian Cobble worked with Claude over 12 years and recalled his passion for forestry.
“I enjoyed working with Claude, as he was a landowner and a forester that practiced land management with a professionalism that was uncommon and well respected,” Cobble said. “He had a good sense of humor, and several Forestry co-workers that worked with him over the years also expressed they enjoyed working with him. He is someone that I always perceived as a ‘pillar’ in Florida Forestry and the local community, and he will be missed.”
Claude’s brother, Daniel Crapps, recalled growing up with him and working on the farm.
“Claude was 14 years older than myself, so growing up, he was someone I always looked up to as a role model,” Daniel said. “When we were growing up and worked on the farms, Claude was in charge of paying us. We would have to come to the bank and wait on him to finish up with his customers. The only problem was that he always had one customer with him and several waiting. He would spend whatever time it took with each customer, whether they were borrowing $50 dollars or $1 million. His customers would wait hours for him and never complain about waiting. Of course, us younger boys would complain about being put behind his customers.”
He continued, “I always accused him of being the number one pall bearer in Suwannee County because whenever someone died, they wanted Claude to be a pall bearer for their funeral and to handle their estate. He also had a reputation for being very frugal, which he was, but he also helped many people in the community personally without wanting anyone to know what he had done.”
Claude joins in death his father, Porter Claude Crapps Jr.; his mother, Mary Elizabeth Parker Crapps; his adopted mother, Virgina Birchfield Crapps; as well as brothers, James and George.
“We will miss him,” Daniel said.