He was, by all accounts, a simple hard-working man who cared for those he came in contact with. He was liked — even loved — seemingly by all who knew him, because he treated others with respect and genuine caring. He went to work every day — in this case in a store he owned — he treated people fairly, he helped others when he could, and he took care of his own.
In short, Donald Claude Arnder was representative of so many people who call Mount Airy and Surry County their home. While most folks in the county might not have known Arnder, they see those characteristics in their relatives, friends and neighbors.
Arnder was killed Friday night, May 25, as he was wrapping up his work day and preparing for the midnight close of his story. Accused in his death are three people from West Virginia who, if they are guilty, apparently are common thugs with no regard for decency or life.
And while no one can imagine the loss his family and close friends are feeling right now, his death is, in one sense, an attack on what makes this community so special.
We hope the law enforcement and court system prosecutes those who are guilty to the absolute fullest extent of the law, with no quarter given for cooperation in their testimony or any other factors. They murdered a good man, and should pay for their deeds.
For now, there is little the community can do, other than grieve over his loss and, for those who knew Arnder, remember the kind of man he was. For those who knew him, we hope a planned Friday night vigil at his store is one way to share in the sense of loss with one another, and to show his family how much he was cared for and respected. While we hesitate to call upon the larger community to be there for fear of overwhelming those who have planned the vigil, we do hope each of you will find a way to remember Arnder, and celebrate the part of him that does represent so many others in Surry County.