Larry Price Craig, a Herald activist, unofficial mayor and Good Samaritan who founded the town's free Christmas Eve breakfast, died Oct. 13 of complications related to lymphoma, his family said. He was 70.
Mr. Craig was the ringleader of the Herald Porch Club, a group of about 20 guys with mostly gray hair, big bellies and bigger hearts who meet every morning for coffee, talk and friendship. They hold court on the porch of the Herald Store in the tiny rural community east of Galt in south Sacramento County.
He became a regular after retiring from a 32-year career with the California Youth Authority. Although his home has a Galt address, he fit in easily with good ol' boys who ride their lawnmowers in the annual Herald Day parade, play practical jokes and modeled for a calendar to raise money for the local school.
"Herald is an attitude, not an address," he liked to say. Others liked to say it too, and the phrase has been printed on T-shirts and hats.
In a small town where neighbors help neighbors, Mr. Craig took a lead in organizing the Porch Club's activities. Members showed up to help paint a needy resident's house, donated materials for a retiree's new roof and dug into their pockets for a youngster's 4-H project.
In a 2004 interview, he explained that Porch Club members including volunteer firefighters, ranchers and retirees safeguard a community force known as "the Herald connection."
"If you say you've got a fence post to put in in the morning, you get home and six guys will be waiting for you," he said.
"There's hardly a week goes by we don't rescue somebody. Somebody out of gas. Somebody needs air in their tire. We give lots of directions. Herald is a good thing."
Eleven years ago, Mr. Craig organized a free Christmas Eve breakfast and dished up biscuits and gravy for residents and anyone else who showed up at the Herald Store. With food and cooking donated by Porch Club members, the event became an annual tradition that served as many as 500 people last year.
"It's just a free breakfast," he said in 2004. "For the spirit of Christmas. That's the way it's supposed to be."
Born in 1942 in Glendale, Mr. Craig moved to the Sacramento area as a teenager. He graduated from La Sierra High School and spent almost four years in the Navy as a submarine sonar technician.
He repaired copying machines before taking a CYA job at the Fricot Ranch for Boys in San Andreas. He rose to be supervisor and manager and served at CYA facilities and offices in the Stockton and Sacramento areas.
He retired in 1998 and started a home business, Red Dog Firearms. He had two children with his wife of 49 years, Villa, and raised cattle on 5 acres where he lived in the Galt area since 1973. He was predeceased by a daughter, Deborah Craig, in 1988.
Mr. Craig, who was known as the unofficial mayor of Herald, was a fixture at community events despite a 12-year struggle with lymphoma. In 2010, he and his wife were honored as grand marshals of the Herald Day parade.
"Larry was the guy who had the ideas, put up the sign-up sheets and did all the talking for TV and the newspapers," Herald Store owner Andrew Reyes said. "Everybody else just worked around him."