Thursday, December 1, 2016
10:00 AM to 11:00 AM EST
Trinity United Methodist Church
Thursday, December 1, 2016
11:00 AM EST
Trinity United Methodist Church
1100 Lake Drive SE
Grand Rapids, MI 49506
At the family's request memorial contributions are to be made to those listed below. Please forward payment directly to the memorial of your choice.
Below is the contact information for a florist recommended by the funeral home.
Life Story / Obituary
All who knew Barbara Craig would agree that she was truly beautiful on the inside and out. A loving wife and mother, Barbara took these roles to heart, but she just may have argued that nothing was better than becoming a grandmother to the grandchildren she adored. Life was not without times of trial for her, but she faced whatever came her way with both grace and courage that were to be admired. Although she will be deeply missed, Barbara leaves behind a priceless collection of memories that her loved ones will forever cherish.
It was great to be an American during the 1920s. This was the decade that witnessed the end of the silent film era while the lights of Broadway never shined brighter. Prosperity was felt nationwide, at least until the crash of the stock market in 1929. It was during these exciting days of the early twenties that Harry and Lola (Wilson) Byrd announced the birth of the baby girl they named Barbara Ann on September 5, 1923, in Crawfordsville, Indiana. She was the middle of three Byrd children as she was raised in the family home alongside her older brother, Bruce, and her younger sister, Nancy. Barbara looked forward to spending summers at her Grandmother Wilson’s farm, and she always appreciated that her grandmother was an independent woman who could do a variety of things on her own. Barbara loved the life on the farm and her collie dog.
In many ways Barbara was a young girl of her generation. Her family attended the local Methodist church, and her faith would sustain her through all the events of her long life. Barbara attended local schools, where she was a good student. As someone who was taller as a girl, she often sat in the back of the class. She also learned how to play the string bass, and she later passed on her love for music to her children and grandchildren. Barbara enjoyed being social and was a great conversationalist who also liked keeping up with the various parts of the family.
After graduating from Crawfordsville High School in 1941, Barbara went on to Indiana University. She was filled with a sense of adventure, and as someone who was outgoing and personable she made plenty of friends there. In addition to holding down her studies, she worked in food service at school. Barbara often sent her laundry home on a bus, and her mother then laundered it and sent it back on the bus as well. She went on to earn her bachelor’s degree in business, becoming the first in her family to earn a four-year degree.
New and exciting changes were in store for Barbara when she met the young man of her dreams. His name was James Craig, and he had been in the service during WWII. They began dating, and with a desire to spend the rest of their lives together Barbara and James were married in her home church in July of 1949. The newlyweds settled into a home outside of Indianapolis in Fortville, Indiana, and she worked downtown in the personnel department at Sears. She was always good with numbers and enjoyed working.
Although she found work to be so fulfilling, Barbara left the workforce when she and Jim were blessed with the birth of their son, Brian. About nine years later their family was completed with the birth of their son, David. Over the years Jim’s job required that they move several times as they lived in Fortville, West Lafayette, Fort Wayne, Kalamazoo, East Grand Rapids, Birmingham, and Akron, Ohio. Moving was just a way of life, and Barbara always made friends in a new church family wherever they went. She was never fond of goodbyes, but she just accepted it as part of her life. Because she highly valued education, they were always certain to move to an area with a good school district.
Barbara ran a loving home. She had high expectations for her boys that she clearly communicated. Living in a house full of boys meant that Barbara was often the peacemaker, and she also found that it helped to have a good sense of humor about things. Although not a great lover of cooking, she did become known among her grandchildren for her orange jello with grated carrots and pineapple and other yummy treats. Barbara was also the one who took care of the finances in their family. As a family they took some road trips when Brian and David were younger, and although they often went to see family they also took some longer trips to places like Colorado and West Virginia. Barbara wasn’t ever a world traveler, but she was always up for seeing new places and having new experiences. Both she and Jim were social people, but they really did enjoy being home doing things like watching a movie or playing board games like Scrabble, as she had a vast knowledge of all kinds of things. A lifelong avid reader, she frequented the library and always had an atlas, a dictionary, and a well-used set of encyclopedias in her home.
Life became even sweeter for Barbara when she became a grandmother. Although her grandchildren didn’t live nearby, she made a point of getting to see them as often as she could. Barbara wasn’t really one to lavish her grandchildren with numerous gifts, but she always put a lot of thought into her gifts for each one of them. As a grandmother she was more than generous with her time and was there to do whatever they wanted. Barbara was more than willing to share food, stories, time, and books with her grandchildren, and she was a gracious hostess when her grandchildren came to visit her. Often, her family was welcomed with a nice pork tenderloin dinner with peach cobbler for dessert. Some of her favorite moments were spent playing games and doing puzzles with her grandchildren. One of the things Barbara’s family appreciated about her most was how she was always there to see them off. Whether it was seeing her boys off as they went to school as young boys, saying goodbye to them as they left to seek out their own lives, or saying goodbye to her boys, her daughters-in-law, or her grandchildren after a visit, Barbara always made them feel so cherished. Her parting words were always, "I love you,” and she would stand at the door while smiling, waving, and blowing kisses as her loved ones were in the car and driving off.
After a few years of running a printing business together in Akron, Barbara and Jim moved to Grand Rapids in 1990 to be closer to family. Jim’s health had been declining. Barbara herself was a breast cancer survivor for 40 years. She tenderly cared for Jim as he needed it during his sunset years, and she was deeply saddened with his death in 1998. Although she missed him, she continued living life. Every Sunday Barbara talked with David and Brian, and of course she was sure to let them know that they were all deeply loved. She remained active in her church, Trinity United Methodist Church, where she had been active many years earlier. Barbara loved being part of Bible studies and found such strength in the relationships she built with others there. For years she also traveled to see her sister. For the past 10 years Barbara had been suffering from macular degeneration, but she was still able to use the library through their audio books. Eventually she needed help with everyday activities. This brought her to live with Brian and Vickie for several years before moving to Marywood Aquinata Hall, an assisted living facility, where she spent her last 18 months. Barbara found such enjoyment in conversations with other women there. She remained young at heart, and despite having a failing body she still did everything she could to enjoy life and the people she shared it with.
The lessons Barbara leaves behind are many, and every person she touched takes meaning from them: love God - love your family - support, cherish, and love each other - take joy in each new day. She was humble, but also determined. Deeply loved, she will never be forgotten.
Barbara Ann Craig, age 93 of Grand Rapids, passed away November 23, 2016. She was preceded in death by her husband, James. Barbara is survived by her children, Brian & Vickie Craig, David & Barbara Craig; grandchildren Laura (Daniel) Craig-Bennett, Julia (Berin) Linfors, Helen, Elizabeth and Jonathan Craig; great granddaughter Beatrice; her sister, Nancy Mitchell; brothers-in-law and sisters-in-law Eugene (Betty) Craig, Bonnie (Bill) Carter, Edna Wheeler; and nieces and nephews. Her funeral service will be held on Thursday, December 1, at 11:00 AM at Trinity United Methodist Church, 1100 Lake Drive SE, where friends are invited to visit with her family from 10:00 AM until the time of the service. For those who wish, memorial contributions to Trinity United Methodist Church are appreciated. To read more about Barbara's life, to share a favorite memory or photo, or to sign her guestbook, visit www.lifestorynet.com.