Don Craighead, a strong supporter of the School of Engineering, passed away on Dec. 18 at the age of 86.
“There are losses, and then there are losses. And this is a great loss for our community. Don Craighead was an indefatigable force for the common good, driven by the belief that there is nothing that we can’t do when we are connected to one another,” said Don Weinkauf, dean of the School of Engineering. “Don was a truly gifted mechanical engineer, but his true gift was not what he gave, but how he gave of himself to this community. Don was a one-man social networking machine, not with clicks and posts, but handshakes, business cards, and that amazing spiral notebook he always kept in his chest pocket. If you met Don, you knew he was seriously in the business of getting better together.”
Craighead's multifaceted involvement with the school included: supporting the Science, Technology and Engineering Preview Summer (STEPS) camp; serving 13 years on the Industrial Advisory Board; volunteering in the manufacturing systems program; and serving in 1999 as associate director of programs in manufacturing and systems engineering.
Craighead and his father founded Power/mation, an automation hardware business, in 1964. He sold the company to four employees in 1990.
“Don was always helpful. And unforgettable. People who he met decades earlier could still count on him when needed. He was known for promoting a ‘can-do’ attitude in engineering projects and business ventures. He handed out lapel pins that said, ‘Attitude,’” Fred Zimmerman, the original dean for the School of Engineering, told the Star Tribune.
Craighead was preceded in death by a son, Jim. Survivors include his wife of 54 years, Sandy; children Janine Olmscheid, Dan, and Wendy Sherman; and six grandchildren. Private family services were held Jan. 2. A public celebration of life will be held later.