AA members credit late friend with saving lives | TheUnion.com

AA members credit late friend with saving lives

You probably never knew Harry Craig.

He wasn’t a politician, yet he often cajoled and persuaded people to see and understand his point of view.

He wasn’t a rabble-rouser, though friends attending a Saturday afternoon service might beg to differ.

He never sought out publicity and was probably never mentioned once in the newspaper.

But Harry Craig, who died Friday at 81, didn’t need headlines or the spotlight to tell people he made a difference. Somehow, they always knew.

Craig spent the last four decades of his life as a recovering alcoholic, one of the longest-serving members of Grass Valley’s chapter of Alcoholics Anonymous. He wanted to make sure, his wife of more than 50 years said, that no one would have to hit bottom like he did.

“Harry was one of those people, when we’d have family get-togethers, he’d say, ‘I’ve got to go to a meeting’ and he’d gather up whatever relatives he could and go help someone,” Dorothy Craig said.

“The last years of his life were dedicated to AA. He’s probably holding a meeting up there right now.”

Craig, who moved to Grass Valley 17 years ago, was a retired Army master sergeant who grew up in Berkeley. He’d been a member of AA for 42 years, after a brief stint in jail convinced him to wise up.

His daughter Carol Carman, who sang at the memorial service, said her younger siblings born after their father joined AA barely knew he had a drinking problem.

“After he joined AA, he never had a slip,” she said. “Once he was in, he was dedicated.”

The service for Craig packed the Abundant Life Community Church eight rows deep, as songs, prayers and psalms reverberated off the rafters.

Rodger, 56, of Alta Sierra, said Craig was his sponsor since his last drink in 1989.

“I wanted to quit, but I couldn’t,” said Rodger, who like others associated with AA did not give his last name. “I had nothing, and (Harry) gave me hope.

“When I came in, I was so immature, I didn’t even know how to live with my family,” said Rodger, who noted his friend had a passion for “rapping sessions” at Burger King, where the two would simply talk about life. “He manipulated me in a very loving and kind way. I’m not sad now. If I lock in all the good I know about Harry, I’ll never be sad.”

“He was a dinosaur,” said his pastor, Samuel Floyd. “A crusty guy, but underneath, a real softie.”

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