After 20 years in the U.S. Army, three years in private industry, and another 21 years with the federal government, Don Kraft was still not ready to hang a sign on the door — "Gone fishin’." So, in 1992 he decided to join his wife, Frances, as a Mount Vernon Estate volunteer.
"In 1996, when I quit my day job I went from volunteer to being part of the Mount Vernon staff. When we came home from our last overseas assignment I was retiring but I wanted to do something. That's when I decided to become involved with Mount Vernon on more than a volunteer basis," he said. His wife has more than 1,000 hours as a volunteer at the Estate, according to Don.
During his 21 years of government service following his military service, Kraft worked for the U.S. Department of Defense in Defense Information Systems. In that capacity he served a NATO Liaison Officer with an emphasis on telecommunications.
Today, Kraft is a "miller" and guide at George Washington Grist Mill located on Route 235 approximately three miles from the Estate. Last Saturday and Sunday, dressed in colonial attire, he was doing what he loved — explaining the operations of Washington's flour mill to an inquisitive and fascinated public during Mount Vernon's Fall Harvest Family Days.
"People really appreciate the Grist Mill. This time of year we see more family groups than tour bus groups and that makes for more visitors," he said.
"When the distillery opens, that should attract even a lot more people. This is the only mill that is open seven days a week from April through October. If we get only one visitor in a day they still get the full tour and explanation. They get to see it all," Kraft said.
Residents of Springfield, the Krafts have four grown children — three sons and a daughter. Three live in Northern Virginia and one son is a resident of Southern New Jersey, according to Kraft.
Here is Don Kraft in his own words:
<b>What is the favorite part of your current job?
</b>"Talking and spending time with people that share a real interest in American history and George Washington."
<b>What are some other community activities in which you participate?
</b>"I'm a member of the George Washington Chapter of the Sons of the American Revolution."
<b>What's the one thing about the community you enjoy that you would want to tell a newcomer to the area?
</b>"The fact that Fairfax County has a lot of great facilities such as libraries and parks that are free to enjoy. The libraries get a lot of heavy use. There is a lot of free entertainment throughout the entire metropolitan area."
<b>What are some of your favorite places to visit in the area?
</b>"Kennedy Center, Wolf Trap, the Potomac River."
<b>What's the one thing you would change about the area if you could?
</b>"The traffic. It's just getting worse."
<b>What book would you recommend?
</b>"The many volumes of George Washington's writing. I have several shelves full."
<b>What's the last Movie you saw that you really enjoyed?
</b>"The Boynton Beach Club."
<b>Do you have any hobbies?
<b>Do you have a favorite quotation?
</b>"George Ball's ‘Everyman is a prisoner of his own spirit.’"