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Surrounded by family and friends, Stanley Craig celebrates his 100th birthday with a party at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Corydon earlier this month. Photo By Leslie Radcliff

Man of a century: Stanley Craig

As told by his family

April 29, 2015
How do you measure a life?

In today's society, it might seem like money and fame are the only ways in which to gain measure of a person's worth, but what about those things that can't be measured with a dollar sign or a medal? How much is an ordinary life filled with kindness, compassion, hard work and commitment worth?

"My father was the oldest of 10 children, and he was often responsible for putting food on the table," Donald, the middle son of Stanley Craig, said.

He and older brother Bill were sharing a story about how their father, when just a boy, was given 50 cents to attend the county fair.

At that time, a box of rifle shells cost roughly the same amount. Craig didn't hesitate to choose the shells.

"He came back with 49 squirrels and a crow," Bill said. "He said the crow wouldn't shut up and leave him alone."

That sense of responsibility and a hard-working attitude have left their mark for the last 100 years, not only on the family and friends of Craig, but those who have met him only casually.

Gathered together on a rainy day in April, none of the almost 100 people who attended the 100th birthday party for Craig at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Corydon seemed to care about the weather. They were all there to celebrate a man and his milestone.

Phrases like "What a wonderful man" and "He's just great" floated through the air only to be interspersed with the "We're so lucky" and "He just never stops smiling."

Born on April 21, 1915, to Clarence Edward and Mary Craig, Craig, who is a resident at Todd Dickey Nursing & Rehabilitation in Leavenworth, was the oldest of 10 kids.

A lifelong fan of baseball and automobile racing, he was (and still is) an avid fan of former Tigers second baseman Charlie Gehringer, commonly known as "The Mechanical Man."

"To this day, he says that is the greatest baseball player to ever play the game," Donald said. "He was just such a big fan."

The young man who was responsible beyond his years and loved sports and fast cars would grow to be a fixture in his family and community.

"He would never let you leave without a hug," Kathy Craig, Donald's wife, said with a laugh. "He and his brother were the hugging-est people you've ever met."

Craig would become a chemical warfare instructor stationed in Dutch Harbor, Alaska, after the bombing at Pearl Harbor and would attain the rank of corporal before his discharge from the military in 1945.

Before the war, he served in the Civilian Conservation Corps in Salem and helped with the 1937 flood evacuation of Louisville.

"I remember he would tell us about that story," Donald said. "He was discharged from the corps and helped build the highways from Corydon to Leavenworth, and, after that, he helped build the powder plant in Charlestown."

Craig would never be one to shy away from hard work and went on to work for Ford Motor Co. in October 1945 until his retirement. In the days before the current interstate highway system, that meant rising well before dawn in order to make it to work on time.

"He was the first hourly employee at the Fern Valley Plant," Donald said. "That was always pretty cool. He worked in stock, and he was sent out there to start stocking a year before the plant went into production."

Along the way, Craig would meet Mildred Otis and they would marry in August 1956. They would remain husband and wife until her death in early 2012.

Stanley and Mildred had three children — Bill, Donald and Mark, four grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.

"He took it seriously," Bill said of Craig's commitment to his family. "He still does."

Bill's brother agrees.

"There are just so many things," Donald said of the lessons he's learned from his father through the years, unable to choose just one.

So, how do you measure a life? Well, to the Craig family, they would tell you that time has been the most valuable way they have found.

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