Residents in the East mourn loss of military history museum founder

KINSTON, N.C. (WITN) – The founder of GI Joe’s Military Living History Museum in Kinston, Eric Cantu, passed away on Tuesday.

Pat Carroll says she she is proud to have volunteered side by side with him for the past ten years.

“I’m gonna cry. He and Ralph got all this stuff started and have pushed until it got to what it is today…other people were involved…but they were the ones that began this” says Carroll.

The museum says Cantu came up with the idea back in 1998 as a home base for our nation’s veterans.

Ralph Smith says Cantu designed GI Joe’s Military Living History Museum with one goal in mind.

“History. It’s history. And a lot of stories goes with it, behind it, you walk around here and see the people and see the stories that goes with each picture that’s on the wall, the families and it’s been a lot about education” says Smith.

The center is staffed by volunteers and veterans and features wars from the American Revolution to the present.

Pat Carroll says he leaves behind a legacy that will ensure that those who gave some, and those who gave all, are never forgotten.

“We had our times and I always admired you and thought that any one person who could get all this stuff started and accomplish what you have accomplished, while you were sick, is just number one in my book” says Carroll.

Cantu is survived by his wife, five sons and two daughters. He was 77 years old.

Visitation for will be Saturday at 3pm at Edwards Funeral Home in Kinston. The funeral is Sunday at 2pm at the Walk of Honor on Heritage Street in Kinston.