Military honors, Patriot Guard escort planned for Krider
SALISBURY — Curry Krider’s sister, Terri Hill, said her big brother was “always a hero” to her and to his family.
“He always took care of me when I was little,” Hill said in a phone interview Sunday. “He used to joke that, when he would go on dates, he’d take me with him!”
It was Curry who came to her high school to tell her that their father had passed away,
“He was like a father, almost, to me,” Hill said.
On Tuesday, family and friends will gather to say goodbye to Krider, who died last Wednesday at age 71.
A Rowan County native, after college Krider served 12 years on active duty in the U.S. Army, followed by more than 20 years in the Army Reserve, from which he retired as a lieutenant colonel.
The N.C. Patriot Guard Riders will accompany Krider’s funeral procession from Christiana Lutheran Church to Salisbury National Cemetery, where he will be buried with full military honors, to be provided by a detachment from Fort Bragg.
“It’s really just an honor beyond words,” wife Diana Krider said in a phone interview Sunday. “I know he would just be so proud of that. That’s the way he would want it.”
She said Curry’s entire life was shaped by his military service, “and so their being there means an awful lot.”
‘Army all the way’
Drafted into the U.S. Army in 1966 at age 24, Krider was commissioned as an officer in April 1967, according to articles in the Post archives.
In August of that year, he went to work as a training officer at Fort Campbell, Ky., a position he held for almost two years.
He was promoted to captain in August 1969 and, in December, was awarded the Army Commendation Medal for “expert guidance and leadership” at Fort Campbell.
In October 1969, Krider was ordered to Vietnam, where he served as a military advisor to the South Vietnamese army.
Capt. Krider left active duty in 1978, and went on to serve in the Army Reserve, ultimately being promoted to the rank of lieutenant colonel.
He served for more than 20 years in the Army Reserve, including duty as a casualty information officer during the first Gulf War, and as coordinator of military emergency response in Europe in the 1996.
In civilian life, he owned Curry’s Auto Parts, carrying on the NAPA dealership that his grandfather, Doug Bankett, had owned before him.
And he was the family spokesperson throughout years of negotiations to develop family-owned property off Arlington Street along Town Creek — a development site that ultimately became home to the Walmart Supercenter, Cracker Barrel restaurant and other retailers.
Curry also taught military science courses at Catawba College, and on several occasions shared his views on military conflicts in the Salisbury Post.
His leadership and service inspired his nephew, Michael Todd Hill, to enlist in the Army.
“He was a big part of my life,” said Michael, speaking by phone as he drove from Tennessee back to North Carolina on Sunday. “He actually swore me into the Army, when I joined. He was there for my graduation from basic training.”
And, because he was a retired lieutenant colonel, Curry Krider got permission to visit his nephew in the holding area before Michael’s plane left for deployment to Iraq.
“I didn’t even know he was coming,” Michael Hill said. “… “We got to spend about an hour together, to sit there and talk.”
“Of course, I was pretty scared, leaving on my first tour, never been to combat,” Michael said. “He got my mind right for what I was about to go do.”
“Curry was Army all the way, and he was very dedicated to the service,” his sister, Brenda Krider Martin, said in a phone interview Sunday. “I think he would be very honored for this to be happening.”
Diana Krider said the family is still dealing with the emotional shock of Curry’s passing.
“He was just so well known in Rowan County … Even people who might have disagreed with him still liked him,” Diana Krider said.
“It was just a shock,” Brenda said, of their brother’s loss. “I think we’re all still in denial.”
Terri Hill said she sees the military honors as a final gift for a man who put his life on the line for his country.
She recalled sending homemade cookies, carefully wrapped, to Curry while he was in Vietnam.
There, she said, he would unwrap them and share some of them with Vietnamese children.
“When he (Curry) came back from Vietnam, they didn’t honor them like they do our guys now,” Terri Hill said. “They were looked down on.”
Still, Terri said, Tuesday’s service will be a way of thanking him, one last time, for all he did for his family and his country.