Sam Craig at age 20 (left), already a husband and father, and in his 70s (right). Submitted photos

Samuel Craig Jr., formerly of Maricopa, passed away Sept. 10, 2018, in Toltec. He was 88 years old.

Samuel Craig Jr. Submitted photo

The father of 13 children, Mr. Craig formerly was a property foreman in the Maricopa/Stanfield area and heavy-equipment operator for the City of Coolidge.

Mr. Craig, also known as Junior, was born Jan. 12, 1930, in Crockett, Texas, to Samuel Craig Sr. and Viola Atmore Craig.

He was raised in Crockett, Texas, and developed a love for horses and farming at an early age. He met the love of his life Lizzie Bell McCullough-Craig  at age 18 in 1948. They married in Crockett, Texas, and their first daughter Dorothy Ann was born in 1949. His father Samuel Craig Sr. and he shared the same vision to move west for a better life.

Once he and his father settled in the Maricopa/Stanfield area, they pioneered the newly developed land for the Sellers ranch via Louis Johnson’s estate  He also came into contact with the mega-superstar movie cowboy John Wayne, who would visit Johnson, his friend and partner. Samuel Craig Jr. became the foreman of over 2,000 acres of land from Maricopa to Coolidge. Mrs. Lizzie Bell McCullough-Craig, also worked at Louis Johnson’s estate.

His love for horses landed him a great position as the head rancher at Sellers ranch in Valley Farms. By 1960, he was raising seven children while he performed numerous duties, i.e. picking cotton, driving tractors and herding cattle.

Then he became involved in the rodeo circuit as one of the first African-American cowboys in Pinal county to compete as a team roper, and he rode his horse Chip Jr. in numerous rodeos  and parades.  He won some ribbons along the way.

Mr. Craig worked very hard farming for over 20 years. From the farm life he became a heavy equipment operator for the City of Coolidge for over 20 years at the Coolidge landfill. In his older age he managed to build  three houses  with only an elementary school education. He and  his dad were both carpenters who were self-taught, excellent in math and very detailed.

Submitted photo

In his late 80s, he finally slowed down a little, but he always loved to go to Church and sang solos. He loved to sing to the homeless people to uplift their spirits. He and wife Margie continued to take good care of each other until he was finally called to his heavenly home on Sept. 10 at 10:30 p.m. He will be in our hearts forever.

He is survived by his wife Margie Craig, his children the Rev. Dorothy Wellington, Donnie Craig, Paula Jean Rae, Dr. Alfred Earl Craig Sr., Julia Richardson, Samuel Earl Craig III, Diane Ruth Parker, Min. Debra Jean Garrett, Ronnie Craig, Frank Tapia, Manuel Dominguez, Sally Dominguez-Ruiz and Jaime Dominguez; siblings Eula Asher of Casa Grande, Freddy C. Craig of Phoenix, Maxine Davis of Las Vegas, Nevada, Hareld D. Craig Sr. of Tucson and Ophelia Frazier of Tucson; 50 grandchildren, 124 great-grandchildren and 12 great-great-grandchildren.

He was preceded in death by his parents Samuel Craig Sr. and Viola Atmore Craig, his sisters Mildred Craig-Brice, Sammie Marie Craig-Graves, Clementine Craig-Robbins, Dorothy Butler and Ola Mae Craig-Scurlock and his brother Alfred Ray Craig Sr.

Funeral services are scheduled for Sept. 19 at Coolidge New Destiny Christian Center, 800 N. Ninth St., Coolidge. Viewing is at 10 a.m., and the service starts at 11 a.m. with Dr. Alfred E. Craig Sr. officiating.

(Submitted by Samuel Earl Craig III)

Submitted photo