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Veteran Textile Executive Keith Crisco Passes Away

J. Keith Crisco — founder of Asheboro, N.C.-based Asheboro Elastics Corp., known today as AEC Narrow Fabrics; and a U.S. Congressional candidate — passed away after a fall at his home on Monday, May 12, 2014. Crisco recently celebrated his 71st birthday.

Crisco was a well-known and well-respected member of the textile community. He grew up on a dairy farm near Aquadale, N.C., where he says he learned the value of hard work and the importance of community. He graduated from Pfeiffer University with a Bachelor of Arts in Mathematics/Physics, and later attended Harvard University where he obtained a Master of Business Administration. Crisco also was a White House Fellow, a prestigious appointment that offers young men and women first-hand experience working at the highest levels of the federal government. As a fellow, he served as assistant to the United States Secretary of Commerce for one year.
In 1978, Crisco became president of Stedman Elastics, where he worked until 1986 when he and his colleagues founded Asheboro Elastics Corp. Crisco served as president/chair of the company until 2009, transforming it into a family-owned business during the 1990s. Today, AEC produces versatile narrow fabrics with elastic, rigid, woven and knitted attributes for a variety of apparel and technical applications. The company employs more than 160 people in the U.S., El Salvador and Honduras, and has annual sales of more than $18 million.
Crisco also developed an impressive political resume during his lifetime. He initially served as a member of the Asheboro City Council; and in January 2009, was appointed Secretary of Commerce for the State of North Carolina under former Governor Beverly Perdue. Crisco served as secretary until the end of Perdue’s term in 2013, and announced his bid for U.S. Congress in the House of Representatives in North Carolina’s Second Congressional District at the beginning of this year.
“Keith was one of North Carolina’s giants who make a real difference every day he lived,” Perdue said.
In reaction to Crisco’s death, his opponent in the closely contested Democratic primary for North Carolina’s Second Congressional District seat, Clay Aiken, suspended all campaign activities. Aiken released a statement saying: “I am stunned and deeply saddened by Keith Crisco’s death. Keith came from humble beginnings. No matter how high he rose — to Harvard, to the White House and to the Governor’s Cabinet — he never forgot where he came from.
“He was a gentleman, a good and honorable man and an extraordinary public servant. I was honored to know him.”
Crisco is survived by his wife of 49 years, Jane; three children; and six grandchildren. Funeral arrangements have not yet been announced.
May 13, 2014