Weaverville – Some things in Weaverville are considered fixtures. Connections to the area like Lake Louise and Main Street, but there are special people as well. One of them is Steve Crawford. He is a life-long resident and the manager for the Weaverville Ingles these last 21 years. However, unlike places, people change and move on in life. Such is the case for Crawford, who is retiring from the manager position at Ingles at the end of September choosing to spend more time with his family.
Crawford, 67, was born in the Dula Springs area. The youngest of 11 children born to Rev. Lonie and Bess Hensley Crawford. Rev. Lonie pastored churches in both Buncombe and Madison Counties.
The same company has employed Steve since he was 16 years: Ingles. “I started with Ingles when I was 16-years-old bagging groceries. I’ve never left. It’s the only job I’ve ever had,” says Crawford. Weaverville didn’t have an Ingles back then, so Steve started at the Merrimon Avenue store. From there, “I went to Woodland Hills and started working my way up. Stocking, grocery manager, assistant manager and I’ve been a store manager for almost 40 years,” says Crawford.
Steve has also been store manager at several stores, starting at the Tunnel Road store when it was at the Innsbruck Mall. From there, he went back to Woodland Hills, then Mars Hill and finally Weaverville. “I’ve been here for 21 years.”
Asked what has kept him at Ingles, Crawford said the love for his customers and the love for his job. “I love what I do,” he declares. “This is my hometown…It’s not like I come to work. It’s like I come to my house. To socialize, talk to my friends. I’ve coached baseball youth league for years and years and years. I coached two years of high school JV basketball. So this is my hometown. I use to drag race on the boulevard when nothing was here when I was a kid. This is where God sent me. Where God put me.”
Steve graduated from North Buncombe High in 1973 and still remembers climbing a tree on his family’s farm to watch racing at the North Buncombe Speedway before they built the new high school on the property.
Asked if he ever desired to go higher in the company than store manager, “This is my dream job. I’ve had a dream job for all these years. I’ve just stayed right here in this community and tried to help people.” Crawford said he always worked closely with the local schools, even sitting on a local advisory board and helping give North Windy Ridge School its namesake. “Clara Rector and I named that school,” recalls Steve.
Now living up Reems Creek in the Beech Community, Crawford and his family have about 75 acres using 10 acres for pasture for about 10 head of black Angus cows with another 10 acres for hay rolling and square bales. “Growing up on a farm and following mules my whole life, the first thing I did was buy a tractor when I was able,” says Steve about farm life. Asked what keeps him in Weaverville, Crawford said, “Being a small-town boy like I am, I love where I live … I just never liked any place past Weaverville.” He and his wife are elders at the Reems Creek/Beech Presbyterian Church in the same community he lives.
When asked: Why retire now? “You know it’s time for me. All these years, I’ve done this. I love this company … I can’t say enough good things about them … but it’s time for me to spend time with my family. “My wife reminded me yesterday that we never spent a Thanksgiving Day together as a family.” Steve married his high school sweetheart, Linda Rhea, 46 years ago and raise two kids, Chris and Stephanie and now has three grandchildren, Maddie, Emma, and Blake. “I never spent a Christmas Eve anywhere but at Ingles.”
Steve’s last day at Ingles will be Thursday, September 30th and he said he plans to be there all day to meet his customers. He said he wouldn’t be a stranger to locals as he will be in town and you might even see him drinking a cup of coffee at one of the tables at Ingles, but no tie and dress shirt as he plans on wearing farm casual
most of the time.