David William Craig, 72, of Gillette went to be with the Lord on Monday, May 18, 2020, after a horse accident at his home.
Mass of Christian Burial begins at 4 p.m. Friday, June 5 at the Craig Family Home, 3804 Roundup Drive in Gillette with the Revs. Bryce Lungren and Cliff Jacobson officiating.
The service will be streamed live at gillettememorialchapel.com and a link will be attached to Dave’s obituary page.
A vigil begins at 5 p.m. Thursday, June 4, at St. Matthew’s Catholic Church.
David William Craig was born June 5, 1947, in Clovis, New Mexico, to John and Wanda Craig and he spent most of his childhood in Las Vegas, New Mexico, with his family, including three siblings.
He and his wife, Sally Rankin Craig, formerly of Douglas, have lived in the Gillette community since 1993 and are active members of St. Matthew’s Catholic Church.
Dave started his college education at New Mexico Highlands University, later transferring to Casper College on a rodeo scholarship.
Dave and Sally met while they were students at Casper College and they married in 1968.
Dave continued his education at the University of Northern Colorado and Colorado State University, earning master’s degrees in electronics and industrial technologies.
Dave taught at Farmington High School in New Mexico and Chadron State College in Nebraska before going into the oil and gas business as a drilling and production engineer. Dave finished his professional career as an electronics teacher at Campbell County High School and Gillette College.
Most recently, Dave completed his certificate in operational drilling technology. He believed deeply in the value of education and never missed an opportunity to encourage students to pursue their aspirations.
One of Dave’s lifelong passions was rodeo. After rodeoing in high school and college, he competed for years in the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association as a bareback bronc rider and team roper. He was a Gold Card member of the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association, the National Team Ropers and an alumni of the National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association.
Always an educator, Dave coached rodeo at Chadron State College where his teams won multiple national championships. He passed the love of rodeo to his daughters, who grew up competing in rodeo, horse showing, horse judging and 4-H.
Dave was a man of many interests and later in life he took up the sport of road cycling and racing as a USA Cycling competitor. He could be found with his bike wagon at senior pro bike races and national championships throughout the country either competing himself or supporting other racers.
Dave was a friend to all and a constant champion of the underdog. He loved youth, the under-served and anyone who needed a helping hand. He was known for his hours-long conversations with friends and strangers alike.
On more than one occasion, he opened the family home to those needing a bed for the night or perhaps a yearlong home. Travelers, rodeo families and “friends of friends” passing through Wyoming knew that they would find a roof, warm meals and even warmer conversation at the Craig home.
He would not hesitate to empty his wallet for a person in need or spend hours “mechanicing” on their broken-down vehicles. He was gregarious and fun loving and took on the world to chase his dreams and champion the dreams of others, especially his family.
Like any true rodeo cowboy, Dave loved life on the road and happily drove across the country, day and night, for reasons big and small. He was beloved by the rodeo community and his absence will leave a hole behind bucking chutes, at team ropings and at dusty Sunday cowboy church services throughout the West.
Dave was a man who loved the Lord, loved new adventures and loved his family fiercely.
Dave would surely give us this advice: “Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming, ‘Wow, what a ride!’”
Dave is survived by his wife, Sally Rankin Craig of Gillette; daughters, Lisa Renee (Doug) Tumminello of Steamboat Springs, Colorado, Karina (Jon) Fenderson of Flagstaff, Arizona, and Alicia (Chris) Vargo of Flagstaff; grandchildren, Faith Haglin, Kristen Fenderson, David Fenderson, Caleb Powers, Drew Powers, Alexandra Berto, Bowden Tumminello, Skylar and Brayden Vargo; brothers, Carroll Craig and Dan Craig; and sister, Kathy Foust.
Dave’s nieces and nephews were as valued as his own children and he loved taking them in, talking with them and being a support. Dave is loved by many more family members, friends and kindred spirits.
He was preceded in death by his parents; son-in-law, Ryan Shay; and grandson, Kai Jaxon Vargo.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests that memorials be made in Dave’s name to benefit the John Paul II Catholic School/Dave Craig Scholarship Fund or Wyoming High School Rodeo Association/Dave Craig Scholarship Fund.
Memorials and condolences may be sent in care of Gillette Memorial Chapel, 210 W. Fifth St., Gillette, WY 82716.
Condolences also may be expressed at gillettememorialchapel.com.
This paid obituary was provided by family and friends.