"We were originally from Old Kuttawa, and we moved out here to Eddyville in 1960 when the new town started," he said. "We built a house up on Fairview Avenue — I think there were less than 20 houses when we moved here."
Crady graduated from Lyon County High School in 1976, and then went to Western Kentucky University. He graduated from WKU in 1980 with a major in speech communications and a minor in mass communications and broadcasting. After college, he went to Chicago and worked in construction a short time. He accepted an assistant manager's position with Wendy's of New Orleans in 1982, and worked his way up to area supervisor. He spent his career with that giant restaurant chain started by Bowling Green native Dave Thomas. Crady moved his family to Charlotte, N.C. in 1988 where he was Wendy's general manager until 1996 when he was promoted to district manager. He was with Wendy's for 31 years before retiring this year.
Now he wants to carry on his father's legacy as field representative with Woodmen of the World here. He opened an office on Trade Avenue on Friday.
"I really wanted to get out of the restaurant business," he said. "I made a phone call to the state (Woodmen) office in Murray, just inquiring. ... The lady at the home office said, 'What's your name?' I said, 'My name is Jeff Crady.' And she said, 'I think our area managers are meeting in Crady Hall,'" he said, noting that Crady Hall, which is named for his dad, is one of the state training centers at the WOW Park in Murray.
The woman asked if he was related to the Crady for whom the center was named. "I said, 'That was my father;' actually that's how it all got started," he said, adding that his brother, George, and sister-in-law, Belinda, were instrumental in persuading him to come home. He conceded he feels some trepidation about changing careers.
"I've never done the insurance business, so this is all a new world for me," he said. "My dad started with Woodmen of the World in 1958, the year I was born. 'It's a family fraternity' was what used to be the motto of Woodmen of the World, and we became very involved with my father's business. I can remember going to meetings at the J.C. Beckett building when I was 6 and 7 years old. My father bought a piece of property over where the Woodmen Park is now, and we cleared the land and built the lodge. My fondest memories of Woodmen were taking trips to St. Louis to see the Cardinals ballgames and going to Mammoth Cave."
Through the years when he came home to visit, people would come up to him and say they remembered when "H.C. Crady took us on Woodmen trips in that old Woodmen bus."
"My father was a really well respected, good man, and a lot of people really cared for my dad," Crady said. "He was a major part of the community. I used to go to family nights in Iuka and Marion and Princeton and just followed my dad around. He really liked for us to be a part of his business. ... It enabled me to become a people person at a very young age. ... I guess the primary reason I'm doing this is to kind of rekindle the spirit of the Woodmen and the Crady name in Lyon County."