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Obituary for James Edward Craig

James Edward Craig, 96, passed away October 25, 2017 at his McMinnville home. He was born July 11, 1921, in Springfield, Illinois, to parents John William and Myrtle Frances (Petree) Craig. In 1924, the family moved to St. Clair, Missouri, where he grew up attending public schools and helping with the family businesses of a combined Standard Oil gas station and restaurant located directly on highway Route 66.

He graduated from the University of Missouri and continued in the University of Missouri Law School until he was drafted for World War II in the fall of 1942. After basic training at Shepherd Field, Texas, he was assigned to the Chemical Warfare Department and sent to air bases at Herbert Smart, Georgia and Syracuse, New York. He attended officer’s training at Miami, Florida and from there went into the Air Corps Transport Command as a First Lieutenant. He saw service time at San Francisco, Spokane, and Portland, Oregon air bases until his discharge in 1946.

He returned to law school in Missouri where he met undergraduate Marilyn Jean Hill of Moberly, Missouri, who he charmed into becoming his fiancée in 1946. He graduated first in his law school class in 1947, earning the Order of the Coif. He then went on to complete a Master of Laws program at Harvard Law School in 1948 and began working for a law firm in Portland, Oregon, later that same year. On February 27, 1949, he married his beloved Marilyn, and in 1950, they moved to McMinnville. He began his law practice which eventually became the firm of Craig, Brand, Lake & Hart, with offices on NE Evans Street in downtown McMinnville. He was elected Yamhill County District Attorney in 1956 and served for eight years while continuing to build his own practice. He was also city attorney for the towns of Dundee, Amity and Willamina for many years.

Jim was active in county and local civic affairs. In 1955, he received the first Junior Citizen Award issued by the McMinnville Junior Chamber of Commerce. He also served as Yamhill County Boy Scout chairman, president of the McMinnville Chamber of Commerce, and he was a member of the volunteer fire department. He served as a deacon and on many committees for the McMinnville First Baptist Church and was a member of the Elks and Masonic Lodges. His dedication to service was best typified by his membership in Kiwanis. He was inducted into the McMinnville Kiwanis Club in 1950 and he served as its President in 1955. He continued as an active member (and the Club’s oldest living member) until his passing

He was defined by his passion for the mountains, both climbing and downhill skiing. Jim joined the Mazamas, the Portland-based mountaineering club, in 1954 and he was a long-time member of the Iowa Mountaineers and the Swiss Alpine Club. He received numerous Mazama climbing and leadership awards and was also a lecturer and instructor for the Mazama Basic Climbing School. With his good friends, Don Eastman, Clint and Dorothy Harrington and his children, he climbed well over 150 peaks and skied at over 140 areas in the U.S., Canada and Europe.
Jim and Marilyn traveled a good portion of the world, hiking together when possible, and traveling to places where Marilyn could research the family history. They enrolled in immersive language courses in Mexico and Spain and met up with family for camping trips, graduations and reunions. But, they always returned to their favorite spot at the base of the Matterhorn in Zermatt, Switzerland (which Jim had twice climbed) where they enjoyed many summer months. Marilyn passed away in 2014 and he missed her every moment thereafter.

Jim is survived by his three children, Andrew of Tigard, Oregon, Timothy of Los Angeles, California, and Beth Ann of McMinnville, Oregon. Also surviving are his four grandchildren, Kevin Craig, Kristen Craig, Ellen Hurd and Eric Hurd. He was preceded in death by his wife, Marilyn Jean (Hill), and his sister, Thelma (Craig) Spainhower of Kirksville, Missouri.

A memorial service will be held at the First Baptist Church in McMinnville on Friday, November 17, 2017 at 3:00 p.m. Memorial donations are suggested to the church or to scholarships for kids through the McMinnville Kiwanis Club.


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