Colonel Robert Craig Remembered

Colonel Bob Craig
Colonel Bob Craig

by Valerie Garner

Marine Colonel Robert Craig passed away Sunday, April 1, 2012. He is survived by two sons Michael and Richard. He was predeceased by his wife, Virginia (Ginny) in May 2010. According to a long-time friend Anita Wilson, co-owner of Burger in the Square, Colonel Craig died at the UVA hospital in Charlottesville.

The Wilson’s became acquainted with Colonel Craig when he was selling his framed Roanoke scenic photos in Market Square – an occupation he gave up as his wife became ill. Colonel Craig was a frequent visitor at the Wilson’s new Roanoke County location said Anita Wilson. His visits dwindled and the last time she saw him was about a month ago. “We’ll miss him greatly – Louis and I had the utmost respect for him,” she said Monday. Craig presented them with two framed photos of their new location that now grace the restaurant wall in remembrance.

The always outspoken Colonel Craig would blog with the handle “curmudgeon.” He was a frequent antagonist at Roanoke City Council meetings and briefings. As a Marine Colonel he was in charge of a budget much larger than that of Roanoke City. He found government finances to be messy and inconsistent relative to the guidelines and priorities they were supposed to be following. He consistently argued that the city needed a Chief Financial Officer.

He ran for city council unsuccessfully as a Republican but garnered a high number of votes. The Colonel was blunt and at times gruff with his criticism but he was often right. Council admonished him when he pushed his point to the edge of decorum but once allowed him to present councilman Dave Trinkle with a not so flattering framed award.

In December of 2009 he spoke out loud at a council briefing saying that award of the Recovery Zone Bonds to councilman Dave Trinkle’s Shenandoah building was a “conflict of interest.” Trinkle eventually pulled his building from consideration.

As his health declined Craig’s council meeting attendance dwindled. During one of his last he could be heard mumbling his displeasure under his breath as the briefing turned to one topic after another. Craig’s deep commanding voice made it almost impossible for him to whisper.

On a personal note, after losing in the city Democratic primary several years ago I received a call from Colonel Craig asking me to accompany him to the Republican Reagan Dinner. This was when he was running for a city council seat as a Republican in 2010. He had two tickets and his ill wife could not go and she suggested that he take me. I was honored and suggested that I meet him there. He would have none of that and insisted on picking me up like a “real date so tongues could wag.”

On the ride home he admitted that he was politically an Independent. That was no surprise. There was no neat box you could lock Colonel Robert Craig in – they threw away the mold for this fine gentleman a long time ago. Rest in Peace Bob.