Don Craighead, a fixture at meet-and-greets and community events in North Oaks for many years, passed away peacefully at home at the age of 86 on Dec. 18. 

Don and his wife, Sandy, have lived in North Oaks for the past 49 years. During that time, the couple raised four children and truly embraced their community. In the 1970s, North Oaks elected Don as Constable, and he served some summons during his stint as peacekeeper. 

In 1961, Don and his father collaborated to found Power/mation, an automation hardware business, which Don would later sell in 1990 to his employees; proceeds from that sale would fund the next important stage of Don’s life, which he referred to as “the giveback part.”   

Don’s background was in mechanical engineering, and one could see the engineer mindset in how he worked a room; he would find whoever needed an introduction or conversation partner and provide friendly banter—and a business card for North Oaks Network to boot. North Oaks Network was as much a philosophy as it was a speaker series. Don knew that North Oaks has many talented and gifted individuals in its midst, and he strived to bring that knowledge and interest to his neighbors and friends: his creation of the North Oaks Network was the culmination of years of caring about his community.

Don’s true passion and calling was mentoring young people. He excelled at connecting people and fostering a sense of shared ideas and purpose. Many residents will recall his presence at Night to Unite events and at White Bear Lake United Methodist Church functions. Don demonstrated a true heart for service, and our community is an improved one for having had Don in our lives. He will be deeply missed and fondly remembered.

Don is preceded in death by son, Jim. Don is survived by his wife of 54 years, Sandy; sister, Sharon (Lee) Slinger; his children, Janine (Tom) Olmscheid, Dan (Cindy), and Wendy (Mark) Sherman; grandchildren, Peter, AJ, Ben, Sarah, Matthew, and Madeline. A public celebration of life will be held at a later date. 

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