Don and Mary Craft made an extraordinary lead gift to the Still Barton Fundraising Drive this spring. To honor Don’s Atlantic Christian College roommate, they established the Jimmy and Judy Burnette Scholarship Fund. Their story is just one example of how we are Still Barton and our dedicated and generous alumni and friends are still giving.

When Don Craft ’60 first laid eyes on Jimmy Burnette ’60, they were competing for a spot on the Atlantic Christian College basketball team. It turns out they would be roommates for their entire four years at ACC, but, in those early days, there was no way for either of them to know they were beginning a friendship that would carry them through their entire lives. 

“We became fast friends right from the beginning,” said Don. Jimmy was already married when he started at ACC with three children and a wife back in Oxford. Don grew up in Pinetops, a small town just northeast of Wilson. An only child, Don said Jimmy quickly became like his brother. “Jimmy’s wife, Judy, used to joke that I got to spend more time with her husband than she did,” he said.

They did everything together throughout their four years at ACC. Then, life took them in different directions after graduation in 1960. Don and Mary got married and had a family. Jimmy and Judy moved their family to Chicago for his career. 

Through the years, the Craft and Burnette families remained close.  They vacationed together and spent a lot of time together in Hilton Head. “About six years ago, Jimmy got sick,” said Don. “We went to see him and knew he was close to the end,” he said. 

“The last thing he ever said to me was ‘You’re the best friend I’ve ever had,’” recalled Don. Don and Mary remained close to Judy until she passed away a year later. “We miss them to this day,” said Don. “We wanted to do something to honor this special friendship that started at ACC,” he said.

“Don reached out to us, wanting to support his alma mater and to do something to remember his roommate and best friend,” said Tom Maze, Assistant Vice President for Leadership Giving at Barton. “It quickly became clear that the gift of a scholarship was the perfect opportunity to honor a couple close to Don and Mary and provide critical support during this time of crisis to help make a college degree more affordable for deserving students.”

Thomas Welch, Barton’s Director of Financial Assistance, thinks this is such a powerful way for Don to honor his friend and former roommate. “The Jimmy and Judy Burnette Scholarship makes such an impact on the affordability of a Barton education for the students who will receive it,” said Welch. “This generous gift is much appreciated, and I am looking forward to seeing how this gift motivates the two students who will receive it this year to excel in the classroom.”

If you’d like more information about establishing a scholarship fund in support of Barton College students, contact the Office of Institutional Advancement at 252-399-6381 or by email at annualgiving@barton.edu.