Veteran from Connellsville drove for Patton during Battle of the Bulge
When it came to vehicular ability, Eugene Craig of Connellsville had it in spades.
He raced a snowmobile for fun, flew a plane for work and drove Gen. George Patton’s jeep during the Battle of the Bulge in World War II.
“He loved ‘Old Blood and Guts,’ ” said son Barry Craig, 63, of Connellsville about his father’s admiration for Patton.
Eugene C. Craig of Connellsville died Sunday, Feb. 3, 2019. He was 95.
Mr. Craig was born Dec. 29, 1923, a son of Jacob and Emogene Bigham Craig of Normalville.
“I grew up in Normalville as well,” Barry said. “He and my mom started Craig Appliance in 1958, and then we moved everything to Connellsville in 1974.”
Mr. Craig served in the Army during World War II, earning the rank of master sergeant.
“He was wounded twice and has two Purple Hearts along with several other military honors,” Barry said.
Mr. Craig was a charter member of the VFW in Normalville.
Barry has fond memories of his father’s love of seemingly anything that had a motor.
“The business started out with him selling appliances and TVs, and then he started selling snowmobiles,” Barry said. “Being in Normalville back in the ’60s, we got a lot of snow and there was no salt, just cinders. You could ride for miles and miles on the roads when it was snowy out.”
Mr. Craig developed a passion for snowmobiling, eventually joining the Laurel Highlands Snowmobile Club and starting his own racing group.
“He called it Craig’s Crazy Cats, because he ran Arctic Cat snowmobiles originally,” Barry said.
After stepping away from the family business, which he ran with his wife, the late Kathleen Lambing Craig, Mr. Craig decided he wanted to take to the skies. He earned his commercial pilot’s license in 1971 and flew the eastern half of the United States privately for Golden Eagle Construction until retiring in 1998.
Barry recalls being on hand when his father was getting his wings.
“As a kid, I went with him to Connellsville Airport, where there was a single-engine plane he had a one-twelfth share in with a dozen guys,” Barry said. “We used to do that on Sundays. We flew to Mt. Pleasant and landed on the grass runway, or we’d fly out to Latrobe.”
As his father’s health began failing, Barry sat with him and listened to the classic Frank Sinatra song “My Way.”
“He was a fun-loving, free spirit,” Barry said. “He went through life and did everything he wanted to do.
“Some people are dreamers; he was more of a doer.”
Mr. Craig is survived by a daughter, Terry and husband Ronnie Frey of Berlin, Md.; sons Alan and wife Debbie Craig of Irwin and Barry and wife Judy Craig of Connellsville; five grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.
Friends and family will be received from 2 to 9 p.m. Thursday and 10 a.m. to noon, the hour of services, Friday at Brooks Funeral Home, 111 E. Green St., Connellsville. Interment will follow in Green Ridge Memorial Park in Pennsville.
Memorial donations may be made to Sharing the Harvest Campaign for Connellsville Area Ministries, 110 W. Crawford Ave., Connellsville, PA 15425.
Patrick Varine is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Patrick at 724-850-2862, firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @MurrysvilleStar.