Thomas Edward Craig
January 12, 1955 – August 24, 2018
Thomas Edward Craig was born January 12, 1955 in Ashdown Arkansas, but as he would tell anyone who would listen, “There are two kinds of people… Texans and people who want to be Texans.” Tommy got to Texas as soon as he could and never left!
That was the kind of person he was. He had a passion for life and fierce loyalty to people, animals, places, music, and products .
Tommy’s father was a deputy sheriff in Ashdown Arkansas. Tommy had fond memories of riding in the patrol car and turning the siren on and off. Tommy’s dad died of brain cancer when Tommy was eight years old. His mother died from a fall on a staircase when Tommy was eleven. He then moved to Houston to live with an aunt, uncle and cousin.
Tommy attended the Arkansas School for the Blind, The Texas School for the Blind and graduated high school in Houston at a public school. He attended college classes at Stephen F. Austin and UT Austin.
Forever curious and always learning something new, Tommy enjoyed the Boy Scout program for many years. He became an Advance Amateur Radio operator, and assisted many young people in getting licensed as HAM radio operators.
Tommy met his wife-to-be, Margaret “Cokie” Dennison-Craig, at a convention of the National Federation of the Blind in the late 1970s. They married in 1986. Together Tommy and Cokie raised Siberian Huskies and adopted rescued Greyhounds. They have been active delegates several times to the Democratic conventions in Texas. Both have been leaders in the National Federation of the Blind of Texas. Tommy and Cokie have been traveling extensively since Cokie’s retirement. They have visited Alaska and the Orient and many other places. During their travels Tommy obsessed over going to Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville restaurant to eat Jambalaya. He swore it was the best ever!
Fascinate by technology from the beginning: Tommy recognized the importance of home computers shortly after Apple invented their first computer. Through the years he was fiercely loyal to the Apple brand. He had almost every product they made and made sure friends had them, too. Tommy served on the board of the Austin Capitol Macintosh Users Group for several years. He was President of that group for one year.
Tommy worked in the field of adaptive equipment for blind people. He traveled the United States selling adaptive devices such as Braille displays, speech enabled computers, and Braille embossers. He trained many people to use this equipment. Among his clients were people like Stevie Wonder and Ray Charles.
Together with other leaders of the National Federation of the Blind of Texas Tommy championed a “Braille Bill” which became the model for other Braille bills in America. This was legislation which guarantees blind children the opportunity to learn Braille. He and his best friend Jeff Pearcy were given service awards by the American Foundation for the Blind for their work on this project. Tommy and Jeff headed up the legislative team for the NFB in Texas. Major changes in Texas legislation came about through their efforts. There was a bill and administrative rules at the insurance commission that ended discriminatory practices in selling insurance to blind Texans. Also, they helped get the legislature to place Kurzweil Reading machines in all public libraries of cities with a population of over 50,000 people. As state president of the National Federation of the Blind Tommy worked with the Public Utility Commission to bring the NewsLine program to Texas. This is a program that makes over 400 publications available to blind people in Texas.
Those of us left behind mourn the loss of our friend. His passing was sudden and unexpected. He was planning his rehabilitation from his many injuries he sustained when he was struck by a car. In his usual “take charge” attitude Tommy was already setting goals for himself to beat the time limits his doctors reported for normal recovery. He chose his rehabilitation placement based on reports that he could have his dogs visit him there at the facility and that there would be plenty of visits from Therapy dogs and horses! His zeal for life held out through his very last moments! We might say “Rest in Peace” but Tommy probably has other ideas for his future. He is probably romping with all his beloved animals, and visiting friends and family who went on before him!
- Philip Michael Marshall, Pallbearer
- Jonathan B. Schrauer, Pallbearer
- Qusay Hussein, Pallbearer
- Jim Shaffer, Pallbearer
- Tom J. Weaver, Pallbearer
- Jim Win, Pallbearer
- Visitation Friday, August 31, 2018
- Funeral Service Friday, August 31, 2018
- Committal Service Friday, August 31, 2018
Thomas Edward Craig
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Jonathan B Schrauer
September 2, 2018
We are here in some shock with the early passing of Tommy. One thing he
was in the habit of saying was “I’m not old”. However, leaving the shock
aside we are here not only to morn his passing, but more importantly to
celebrate his life.
To each of us here [as well as many who were unable to be here today]
Tommy appeared to us differently. We all know that he ate with gusto, and
that is how he lived his life.
Tommy was a wonderful friend who would always be glad to help out.
A year or more ago I had hurt my back, and needed to get a marble pedestal
to a room upstairs. Well Tommy and another good friend of Betty and me
(Mark Nobel) volunteered to bring this pedestal to its proper new location.
This involved not only bringing it in from the pick up, but lugging it up the
stairs and getting it into the room where it is now housed. Well this pedestal
was a lot heaver than anticipated and all I could do was make groaning
noises to help. Indeed Mark did strain his one of his knees a bit. However, I
can tell you that ever since this adventure we have all kidded about
something needs to be moved upstairs.
As we know Tommy was a good, independent, well oriented traveler.
Well one afternoon Tommy and Cokie, Betty and I had lunch at the
Longhorn Steak House. After lunch Tommy and the girls decided to go to
the restroom. Well the doors were in the same alcove and Cokie and Betty
went where they needed to go just leaving Tommy. This they had done
many times previously. This time was a little different rather than going to
the door directly ahead for some unknown reason Tommy turned left founda door and pushed it open. Alarms loud and obnoxious sounded. This was
the emergency exit. Tommy then nonchalantly corrected himself and went
to the men’s room. As he later said things happen.
His individual accomplishments are to numerous to mention here.
September 1, 2018
I knew Tommy for decades, but I remember him most from the 1990s, always accompanied by Cokie. I remember attending a concert by Joan Baez. And there was that time they took me to the French Quarter in New Orleans in 1997, that side of the French Quarter that only comes out at night. I believe they were trying to cure me of a bit of prudishness, but they were too nice to say so. I won't tell everything that happened there, except that it involved entirely too much Cajun food and my own loud, raucous, behavior after perhaps one too many Hurricanes. Tommy watched it all with a great big grin.
August 31, 2018
I met Tommy during some pleasant occasions and he struck me as someone with a lively and curious personality. His death came as a shock to me. Among otherthings he will be remembered with his active contribution to the National Federation of the Blind of Texas. My sincere condolences go to his family and friends and to the whole NFB family. His memory will be cherished by all who knew him. May he rest in peace.
August 31, 2018
I was so sorry to hear about Tommy. He was always so friendly and happy all the time. He was a joy to be around. I loved hearing the two of you talk about your trips. Please let me know if there is anything I can do to help you. You are in my thoughts and prayers.
Janet Del CID (Becker)
August 30, 2018
I had the pleasure of meeting Tommy in 2017 when he and Cokie came up to Las Vegas for a visit. We had dinner at the Hard Rock. he was truly an inspiration he was so happy and friendly even though we just met. he made you feel like you've known him forever. Cokie I wrap my arms around you and hold you tight I wish I could be there to hold your hand.lot of love
August 30, 2018
Tommy was a great advocate for blind people, and could help with almost anything we needed including legislative changes, Social Security problems, and any other kind of discrimination that we might experience. But he also like to have fun, and we all wanted him to come to our parties. I will miss him as a friend, as well as missing him as an advocate.
August 30, 2018
I remember meeting Tommy when he worked at TSB. He and Jeff were into ham radios and enjoyed using them and showing them to the students. Yes, before cell phones Tommy kept up with others via ham radio. It always stands out to me when students identify with and maintain positive relationships with staff. Tommy endeared himself to others easily. I was saddened to hear of his passing. May you and Mike take the time needed to cope. I hope all your fun memories bring you a measure of comfort., mine will give me a warm smile. I am grateful our lives touched.
August 29, 2018
I am so deeply saddened by Tommy's sudden passing. Rest assured that his memory and spirit will continue through the lives of the many individuals he enriched with his very special talents. He touched so many people . . . and they will all keep keep you and your family in their thoughts and prayers at this time of sorrow. Ms. K
August 28, 2018
I am very sorry for your loss. My deepest condolences. Please let me know what I can do in your time of need. I am keeping you and your family in my thoughts and prayers. Sincerely, Conchi