Joe Floyd Craig was born on October 11, 1936 in Clinton, OK. He was the eldest child of Roy and Hazel (Parks) Craig.
Joe was brought up in the church, and his foundation of faith was seen in his character and servitude toward others. Joe was raised in the Leedey and Trail communities, where he graduated from Leedey High School with the class of 1954. He continued his education at Oklahoma A&M, later Oklahoma State University.
He joined the ROTC and the Young Democrats, remaining active in both throughout his college career. He obtained a B.S. in Political Science and eventually an M.B.A in Business Administration from University of Missouri-Kansas City.
Joe anxiously waited on his high school sweetheart, Wilma Jean “Jeanne” Bray, to join him at OSU, where they were later engaged and married on December 21, 1956. However, if you asked either of them, they would have told you they were “born married”. Joe graduated from OSU and received his commission as a second lieutenant in the Army. His career as a helicopter pilot in the military spanned 26 years, as he rose to the rank of Colonel.
His service to our country included two tours in the Vietnam War. In addition, Joe was stationed numerous places both at home and abroad, including Germany, WA, VA, TX, AL, LA, KS, PA, and OK. He and Jeanne raised two children together, Carolyn (b. 1961) and Thomas (b. 1964), as they traveled the world and both had successful careers. After retiring from the Army, his strong family devotion brought them back to Leedey, OK in 1987. He returned to his childhood passion of agriculture as they operated Rozel Ranch, the business created by Joe’s parents.
For the next twenty-eight years, Joe fully enjoyed a second career as a farmer and rancher. During that time, they were also primary guardians to granddaughters Alison and Kaitlin for six years. He was a faithful member of the First Baptist Church of Leedey and a well-respected member of the community. Joe believed in public education.
He served as a Professor of Military Science for East Central University in Ada, OK and generously gave time and resources to the students of Leedey Schools, Oklahoma State University, and other educational institutions. In addition to lifelong learning, Joe had many hobbies and interests. He enjoyed hunting, fishing, gardening, cooking, chauffeuring, reading, and staying informed on current events. He retained his passion of flying as well. When asked recently if he missed flying he replied, “I don’t think about it every day”. He often read historical books and then eagerly made plans to travel to those locations. It wasn’t unusual to find him in the kitchen preparing a gourmet meal or relaxing on the back porch with a cup of black coffee.
Joe was preceded in death by his soulmate and wife of nearly 60 years, Jeanne, in 2015. He was also preceded by his parents, Roy and Hazel, and younger brother, Charles.
He is survived by daughter, Carolyn Belden, her husband Andrew; son, Thomas Craig, his wife Laura; four grandchildren, Alison Belden, Kaitlin (Belden) Sides, her husband Sam, Heather and Samuel Craig; brother Jack, his wife Judy; sister Nancy; other relatives, extended family, and lifelong friends.
Memorials may be made to the Leedey Education Foundation in care of Shaw Funeral Home, P.O. Box 276, Vici, OK 73859.
Graveside services were held Wednesday March 3, 2021 at 2:00 pm at the Evergreen Cemetery, Leedey, OK. Condolences may be made to the family at shawfuneralhome.net. Shaw Funeral Home of Leedey.
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