Story by Sara Brumfield • Photo by Zoua Reighter
When Tara Craaybeek and her husband Scott decided to start a family, she knew that it was back in her hometown of Lancaster, Ohio that she wanted to be.
Craaybeek, commercial real estate valuation services manager at Park National Bank, was born and raised in Lancaster. After high school, she went on to study microbiology at Miami University. But after her third year, Craaybeek wanted to try something different.
She began working for a concessions company, travelling around to fairs in Ohio, Michigan and Indiana selling corndogs. It was while on the road that Craaybeek met Scott, who worked in the sausage sandwich trailer.
“We slept in the back of stock trucks,” Craaybeek said. “It was fun.”
Fairfield County is known to have the last county fair of the season, which takes place in October. Being raised in Fairfield County, Craaybeek said she wasn’t used to going to fairs during the heat of the summer.
Craaybeek moved to Michigan — where Scott hails from — for a year before returning to Ohio.
“We didn’t want to raise kids on the road,” Craaybeek said of leaving the concessions business.
Upon her return to Lancaster, Craaybeek went back to school, but this time with a different focus. She began taking business classes at Ohio University and said she fell in love with the courses. She later obtained her MBA from Franklin University.
Craaybeek has been working in the banking world for about 20 years now in her hometown.
“I love it. I’m very detail oriented,” she says.
The couple is raising three daughters: Clara, 15; Susan, 13; and Cheryl, 3. They attend the same schools that Craaybeek attended as a child and even have some of the same teachers.
“I can’t imagine raising kids anywhere else,” Craaybeek says.
Outside of work, Craaybeek is highly involved in her community. She said she chose to join the Rotary Club of Lancaster-Sherman because she connected with its mission and projects. The club works to keep the downtown area vibrant and focuses on education for the community’s children.
She said she also supports the international Rotary’s work to end polio and provide water, food and education around the world.
“I’m supporting these issues for my children’s future,” Craaybeek says.
In 2015, Craaybeek was named Rotary District 6690 Governor. The district is comprised of 59 Rotary Clubs from central and southeastern Ohio with more than 3,600 members. Craaybeek was only the second woman to hold this district post, and the second youngest person overall.
Craaybeek also serves on Legislative Action Committee of the Lancaster Fairfield County Chamber of Commerce. She works to inform Chamber businesses how different legislation will impact them, as well as educate the local chamber about statewide chamber of commerce campaigns.
In her spare time, Craaybeek enjoys going to her children’s games and activities, as well as reading and running. She encourages those from outside of Lancaster to come and check out its attractions such as Mount Pleasant and the Lancaster Festival.
“Overall, Lancaster is a great place,” she said.