Reverend John O. Craig, Jr., 88, of Lexington, Nebraska, died Wednesday, September 12th, 2012, at Lexington Regional Health Center.
John was born October 19th, 1923, at Fayette, Missouri, the fourth son of J.O. Craig and Rebecca Slee. John's father was a Methodist pastor in Missouri for sixty-five years. The family lived in several communities in the northern part of Missouri.
A high school diploma was received by John at Hannibal, Missouri, high school in the spring of 1941. John attended Central College at Fayette, Missouri and entered the Army on December 7th, 1942. He was honorably discharged in December of 1945 after serving in Chicago, maneuvers on the Mojave Desert and then permanent cadre at Camp Carson, Colorado, as a writer of military subjects and public relations.
On August 30th, 1945, he married Elizabeth Clark in Carrollton, Missouri. Four children were born to this couple: Heather, Jessica Ann, John Clark and Paul.
On February 14th, 1968, John was united in marriage to Edith Margritz Matson of Lexington, Nebraska. Her two children, Paul Matson and Pauline Peterson became a part of the Craig-Matson family. Edith and John had a total of ten grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.
John entered the Methodist ministry in 1950, following a brief career in state and national politics. He was an executive of the Democratic party of Oklahoma and worked diligently in the election of Harry Truman in 1948. He had met the future president in Missouri while serving as a reporter for the Carrollton, Missouri Daily Democrat.
John served several churches in Oklahoma and then took temporary assignments in several states. In 1963, John served a pastor in the Ponca Methodist Church and then was appointed associate pastor of the Wayne Methodist Church and also served as the campus minister of Wayne State College. In 1978, Pastor Craig was appointed Nebraska Annual Conference approved Evangelist by Bishop Monk Bryan. He served in this capacity until his retirement in 1985. Since that time he has served as interim pastor in six Nebraska towns and was also pastor for nine years at the Tip O' Texas RV resort in Pharr, Texas.
In 1999, Edith Matson Craig died in Texas. John served the Sandhills Parish and the Omaha Indian Reservation parish at Walthill, Nebraska on an interim basis. Following that became pastor of the Living Faith UMC in the Omaha area.
On his 80th birthday the family held a celebration for Pastor Craig in Mead, Nebraska. He then moved to Lexington where he was employed as the Associate Pastor for four years. He retired for the eighth time in July of 2007.
On November 18th, 2006, Pastor Craig married Glenna Johnson Zern of Overton, Nebraska. The couple lived at the Shackley Retirement Village and then WEL-Life at Plum Creek in Lexington.
Pastor Craig served over 300 churches during his sixty plus years of ministry in the United Methodist Church.
It was his wishes that his body be cremated and placed in the Methodist Columbarium in Lexington, which he lovingly helped bring to fruition while pastoring in Lexington.
John is survived by his wife, Glenna, and his children, stepchildren, and children "in love" - Heather (Craig) Oldsen of Ponca, Nebraska; John Clark (E.J.) Craig of Denver, Colorado; Jessica Ann Craig (Maris Villarreal) of Newburgh, New York; Paul L. Craig of Anchorage, Arkansas; Lynn Matson of Lexington, Nebraska; Pauline Peterson of San Antonio, Texas; Richard Zern of Overton, Nebraska; and Michael (Tracy) Zern of Overton, Nebraska.
Rev. Craig was preceded in death by his parents, Rev. J.O. and Rebecca Craig; his wife, Edith Margritz Matson Craig; his brothers, George Allen Craig, Alfred B. Craig, and Rev. William Everett Craig; and his son, Paul Alan Matson.
A Celebration of Life Memorial Service was held Saturday, September 15th, 2012, at 4 p.m., at First United Methodist Church in Lexington with Rev. Dr. Gretchen Vandenberg and Reverend Tess Hufford co-officiating.
Inurnment was held prior to the memorial service in the United Methodist Church Columbarium. There will be no visitation.
In lieu of flowers John requested memorials be shared with the Lexington United Methodist Church for the maintenance of the columbarium, which John helped plan and which is located on the grounds of the church.