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Dorothy N. Craig
Dorothy Nell Birdsong Craig, a former longtime resident of Bishop, passed away April 16, 2012 at her home in Lewiston, Idaho after a courageous battle with colon cancer. She was born March 15, 1920 at Jacksboro, Texas in Jack County to parents Horace and Winnie Birdsong. When Dorothy was four years old, the family drove an open Model T Ford to Visalia, where her father accepted a job with J. C. Penney. Her sister Peggy was born soon after. Dorothy’s father worked for J.C. Penney Co. at Van Nuys and later at Lone Pine where he was store manager, opening the first JC Penney’s store there in July, 1929. The family lived there for six years before moving back to the L.A. area where Dorothy attended Lincoln High School for 3.5 years, graduating in 1938. She attended L.A City College for a year to study music. She also played piano for the radio while at college and accompanied a 50-voice choir on a radio program. From an early age, it was evident that music was an integral part of her life.
The family moved to Bishop in 1939, so Dorothy left college and moved to be with them. She actually started teaching piano at age 12 and taught until age 82 so many, many students were accomplished musicians as the result of her instruction. She was chosen as First Pianist for the L.A. Youth Symphony and won a scholarship with Samuel Ball who’d taught many famous pianists and formed a lasting friendship with Leonard Pennario and Fredric Marvin who were renowned concert pianists.
On Aug. 2, 1941, Dorothy was lucky enough to marry the love of her life, Norman Craig in Bishop. They had two boys, Jim, born in 1946, and Tom in 1949. The family enjoyed living in Bishop which offered them skiing and other outdoor adventures. They both liked to host parties and gatherings at their home with friends and family.
Norm served in the U.S. Coast Guard and returned home when World War II ended, later working for the U.S. Postal Service. During the time Norm was in the service, Dorothy continued to play for the church but dropped out for three years to tend to her family. Dorothy also worked as a checker for Safeway while in Bishop to help support the family. She learned to play the organ at the Bishop Mortuary – the first organ in town. She resumed playing for the Methodist Church for 20 years and at the First Presbyterian Church for 30 years, both in Bishop. Dorothy was a welcome addition to their churches and they were fortunate to have such an accomplished musician. She also played for numerous funerals and weddings and other special occasions – everyone liked to join around the piano or organ and listen or sing along.
In 2002, following her husband’s death in 1993, Dorothy decided to move to Lewiston, Idaho to be near her son and family. She resumed playing at the Christian Church in Clarkston, Wash. drawn by their wonderful choir and musical director and continued there until January, 2007.
She was preceded in death by her parents; her beloved husband, Norm; son, Thomas (Tom) Craig; and sister, Peggy Milovich.
She is survived by her son, Jim and his wife, Christine Craig of Lenore, Idaho; daughter in-law, Jeanette Craig of Sparks, Nev., granddaughters, Jennifer Craig Garner and Derrick Garner of Lewiston, Rebecca Craig Johnson and Tim Johnson of Rathdrum, Idaho, Erin Craig of Sparks and Angie and Jack Lillis of Forney, Texas; and brother-in-law, Bob Milovich of Weiser, Idaho. She is also survived by nine great-grandchildren and three great-great-grandchildren.
Dorothy was fortunate to have wonderful caring neighbors and friends as visitors in her later years. The family would like to give special thanks for her home care providers from Care Connection and to those wonderful Hospice workers who provided the needed comfort and support during her illness – these were very special people to Dorothy and her family.
For those wishing to contribute to a memorial in Dorothy’s name, we would like to suggest the St. Joseph’s Family Hospice at 1250 Idaho Street, Lewiston, ID 83501.
Cremation has taken place and a memorial service is planned for 1 p.m. Saturday, April 28 at Mountain View Funeral Home for friends and family to celebrate her long and joyous life.
For Dorothy, please always remember a good story, make people laugh and enjoy good music.