Jan 20th 1930 - Mar 20th 2014
Although his life was filled with countless enriching interests and experiences, there was nothing that was more near and dear to the heart of Gene Craig than the family he treasured more than life itself. He had a great sense of humor and was a true jokester who loved making those around him laugh. With a contagious zest for life coupled with his warm and approachable demeanor, Gene drew others near with ease. He was known for his stellar work ethic, and he was a firm believer in the notion that something worth doing is worth doing to the best of one’s ability. Life will be very different for Gene’s loved ones without him here, but the timeless lessons he leaves behind in character, humility, and honor will never be forgotten.
The Roaring Twenties were a time of great prosperity until the historic crash of the stock market on October 29, 1929, sent our nation and much of the world spiraling into the depths of the Great Depression. The decade that followed was cloaked in great hardship that the majority of American families were unable to escape. Jobs became scarce, which meant that people moved wherever they could find work if they were fortunate enough to find work at all. It was just as this decade was dawning that a young couple from Fulton Township, Michigan, was able to shift their focus to a joyous time in their lives as they celebrated the birth of their healthy baby boy on January 20, 1930. Gene Edward was one of eight children born to his parents, Vern and Reba (Underwood) Craig, and he was born and raised on the family farm just north of Maple Rapids alongside his siblings, Clare, Dorothy, Carol, Joyce, Jack, Gaylord, and Jim.
For the most part Gene experienced an upbringing that was typical for the youth of his generation. He was responsible for a fair amount of chores, and as a result he learned what it means to work hard. Gene regularly put up hay, sugar beets, and sold firewood in addition to tending to the garden. The Craig family was a close-knit group, and they could often be found gathered around the radio listening to the Tigers, Rin Tin Tin, and the Green Hornet. With little extra money Gene learned to be creative in making his own toys from things around the farm. While growing up he learned to hunt and fish, and he was able to buy his first car, a ’49 Ford coupe, with the money he earned from the mink he hunted. Gene attended local schools where he was a good student, although at times he was pulled out of school to help on the farm like many boys of his time. He was shy, but he made friends easily, and he also played baseball, basketball, and ran cross-country in school. Gene went on graduate from Fulton High School in 1948.
It was through his love for hunting that Gene came to train hunting dogs. He had a special place in his heart for dogs, and he was also known for having the best hunting dogs in town. In fact, because Gene won numerous competitions he was eventually asked to be a judge, which provided other competitors with a chance to win. He also belonged to the Maple Rapids Coon Club. After graduating Gene worked on the farm until he was drafted into the Army in 1952. He served in Korea during the Korean Conflict until 1954.
Life was forever changed for Gene when he met a young girl named Barbara Swainston at a dance in Pompeii as he greatly enjoyed dancing. After falling in love, the couple was married a bit later. Together they were blessed with four children: Lavonna, Karen, Jonothan, and Kimberly. Although they divorced after 12 years, they remained in the same area and were both grateful for the children they shared.
As a father Gene was very active in the lives of his children. He enjoyed taking them hunting and fishing, hunting for mushrooms, or even just on walks. Drive-Ins were another favorite thing for Gene to do with his kids. He was deeply devoted to providing them with a comfortable life, and he worked nights as well as on the farm so he could accomplish this. Gene was more than willing to go without so that his children didn’t have to. While farming he did refrigeration work on refrigerators and air conditioners at Gibson’s, retiring in 1990 after 32 years. Gene was a genuine handyman who could seemingly piece anything back together that got broken around the house. When he had some time off he loved playing cards, especially euchre. In addition, Gene attended Maple Rapids Congregational Christian Church and the Wesleyan Church of Eaton Rapids, and he was a member of VFW Post #3733. For as long as he was able he continued to hunt, fish, and carry on with as much work as he could, even after being diagnosed with cancer in 2009.
All who knew Gene would say that the list of things that made him an extraordinary man is extensive. He was known for weaving a fantastic story, usually about things that actually happened to him. Gene gave to others in abundance, especially when it came to his grandchildren. He loved spending time with them and wanted to teach them all about the farm that was his greatest source of pride and joy. In fact, Gene once tried to convince them that it was fun to pick up rocks in the field! He loved pulling them around the farm on a wagon pulled by the lawnmower and enjoyed cooking over an open fire surrounded by his family.
With a life that spanned times of great change around him, Gene Craig was a true blessing in the lives of those around him. He was hardworking and frugal, fun-loving and giving. Gene will be missed for his sense of humor, his warm demeanor, and his practical jokes, but most of all he will be missed for his unending love for his family and friends.
Gene Edward Craig died March 20, 2014. Gene is survived by his children, Lavonna (John) Evans of Eaton Rapids, Karen (Doug) Bosworth of Eaton Rapids, Jonothan (Julie) Craig of Perrinton, and Kimberly Craig of NC; 7 grandchildren, Lynnsilee (Alex) Evans-Lado, Jon-Paul Craig, Elise Evans, Brienna Bosworth, Craig Bosworth, Amanda Craig and Ethan Craig, siblings, Carol Barton, Joyce (Joe) VanSickle, Jack Craig, Gaylord Craig, Jim (Shirley) Craig; and many nieces and nephews. Gene was preceded in death by his parents; brother, Clare (Mary) Craig; and sister, Dorothy (Roy) Shook. A Memorial Service will be held at 11:00 a.m., on Saturday, April 5, 2014, at the Maple Rapids Congregational Christian Church with Pastor Jerry Kissling officiating, interment to follow at Payne Cemetery with Military services provided by Post #3733. The family will receive friends 2-4 and 6-8 p.m., on Friday, April 4, 2014, at the Goerge Chapel of Osgood Funeral Homes, 11112 W. Ionia St., Fowler. To learn more about Gene and view his Life Story film, please visit his personal webpage at www.lifestorynet.com/memories/98189. The family is being served by Osgood Funeral Homes.