Robert Smith Craig, 91, of Charleston, WV, also known as Granddad, passed away on April 27, 2020, after a long, extended illness. He passed in his home surrounded by his family with his cat resting on his chest as he took his final breath. Born on July 27, 1928, in Reedy, Roane County, he was the son of the late Editor of the weekly newspaper, “The Reedy News,” Fred E. Craig and Georgia Smith Craig.
He was preceded in death by his wife, Mary Ellen Updike Craig. He is survived by two daughters, Martha Craig-Hinchman and husband, Steve, of Charleston, and Anne Craig Lum (husband, Eric Lum, deceased) of Honolulu, HI; also two grandchildren, Craig Pringle Hinchman and wife, Amanda, of Spencer, and Andrea Ellen Hinchman of Charleston; sister-in-law, Kay Craig of St. Albans, and several nieces and nephews. He was also preceded in death by his brother, W. Frederick Craig of St. Albans, and sister, Mary O’Dell, and husband, Jim O’Dell of Spencer.
He retired as a Business Professor from West Virginia Wesleyan College in 1988 after 27 years of teaching. Previously, he was Business Manager at Wesley College in Dover, DE and at Stratford College in Danville, VA. He received his A.B. degree in Business and English from Davis & Elkins College, graduating as valedictorian (1949); received a M.Ed. degree from the University of Delaware (1961) with additional graduate work at Columbia University and New York University, and graduated from Spencer High School as valedictorian (1945). He served in the U.S. Army during the Korean War as a court reporter for Court Martial Trials while stationed in Tokyo, Japan.
After collecting family history on Updike descendants (his late wife’s family) for 23 years, he published, in 1985, The Virginia Updikes-Updykes, a book with over 1,000 pages spanning thirteen generations of Updikes. Completing a project of this magnitude was a labor of love in honor of his late wife.
Mr. Craig had such fondness for his alma mater, Davis & Elkins College and was committed to the financial well-being of the institution. As Mr. Craig presented the largest class gift in the College’s history at Homecoming 1999, he challenged golden reunion classes in succeeding years to surpass the impressive standard his class established as he raised over $35,000 from the Class of 1949 in honor of their 50th class reunion for the Endowment Fund at D&E. This was followed by $127,000 from the Class of 1950! He was also inducted in April 2007 into the Hall of Fame for the Beta Alpha Beta Honorary Business Fraternity by Dr. Gloria Payne, recognizing he served as first president of the organization in 1945. Dr. Payne touched many lives over the years, which included Mr. Craig’s. She had been his teacher at Spencer High School in 1944 and transferred to the D&E faculty in 1945 and recruited him as a student. This was the beginning of their 75 years of friendship!
Upon retirement, Mr. Craig moved to Charleston in 1988 and assumed his most cherished job of babysitting his grandchildren, Craig and Andrea. He was involved daily in his grandchildren’s lives and had such a special relationship with them offering an abundance of love, support, and encouragement over the years. He experienced so much joy and excitement as he watched them set and achieve their goals. Undeniably, his dedication to the well-being of his two beloved grandchildren was ultimately his greatest accomplishment forever shaping their lives.
Mr. Craig was an avid Biblical scholar and taught many thought-provoking Sunday School lessons at Christ United Methodist Church and conducted Bible Studies at Edgewood Summit in Charleston, WV. He was also a familiar sight in Kanawha City as he rode his bike daily for years through the neighborhoods, and CAMC Memorial Hospital staff also knew him for his routine walks through the hospital.
He is now strolling hand-in-hand with the true love of his life, Mary Ellen. Furthermore, he is rejoined with his parents and back again with his siblings as “Freddie, Bobbie, and Mary Lou.”
Due to COVID-19, a memorial service will be scheduled at a later time. Mr. Craig’s name will be added at the burial site of his beloved wife, Mary Ellen Updike Craig, at Prospect Hill Cemetery in Front Royal, VA. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to the Class of 1949 Endowment Fund at Davis & Elkins College, Elkins, WV 26241.