Mary Louise Linville Craig, 86, died Wednesday, April 21, in Abilene. Visitation will take place Saturday, April 24, from 9-11 a.m. at Elmwood Funeral Home, 5750 Hwy. 277 South. A graveside service will follow at 11 a.m. at Elmwood Memorial Park at the same location.
Mary Lou was born on Nov. 18, 1934, in Disputanta, Ky., to Howard and Hazel (Wolfe) Linville. While a Texan for nearly 50 years, her Kentucky roots and family were always close to Mary Lou's heart, and she went home to the Blue Grass State as often as she could. Spring was a favorite time in both states - when bluebonnets were blooming in Texas and dogwood and redbud trees were blooming in Kentucky.
After attending two years of college at Eastern Kentucky University, Mary Lou "ran off" to Jellico, Tenn., with Jennings Craig on March 25, 1955, where they were married. She taught kindergarten in Kentucky and Greenville, S.C., then accompanied Jennings all over the world during his Air Force career with assignments in South Carolina, Germany, New York (where William was born in 1965), Ohio (where Tom was born in 1967), England and Texas.
The young family was living in Abilene in 1973 when Jennings retired from the Air Force. He started a second career with Hendrick Medical Center, and together he and Mary Lou also started an antique business with collections amassed from their time in England. Through the antique business, they made life-long friends who became like family, including Rose Putman and Bob and Christie Beermann and their daughter, Jessica.
Mary Lou continued the antique business for 20 years after Jennings died. She co-owned Yesterdaze Antique Mall and The Antique Station, and worked at one shop or the other every day of the week.
Mary Lou was a renowned cook. As a 49-year member of Baker Heights Church of Christ, cooking for others was often seen as her ministry - feeding groups of up to 100 college students in her home, baking for Vacation Bible Schools, sharing meals with people around her table, potlucks, and baking all kinds of food gifts. She became known for "fat cookies," her version of tea cakes with a cream cheese frosting. She was also known for her cheese grits, fried apples, Kentucky green beans and always having the best desserts.
She is survived by two sons and their families: William and Leigh Ann Craig of Fort Worth, and their children: Tyler and Alexis Craig of Fort Worth, Jennifer Craig of Temple, and Julie Beth Craig of College Station; and Tom and Betsey Craig of Abilene and their standard poodles, Jet and Buck. Her grandchildren and many pets over the years overflowed Mary Lou's heart.
After being widowed, Mary Lou lived with Tom and Betsey and Betsey's parents Sam and Ginny Bolin. For 18 years, they all lived together in what they affectionately called The Big House. The home was constantly filled with family, friends and good food.
Mary Lou was preceded in death by Jennings in 2001; her only brother, Jim, on March 22 of this year; and her father and mother. For 20 years, Mary Lou has looked forward to reuniting with Jennings.
Honorary pallbearers will be Bob Beermann and Sam Bolin, and nephews Sonny Brandenburg, Chris Craig, Corey Craig, Jeff Craig, Neal Craig and Pat Craig.
Memorials can be made to Remington Ridge Church of Christ Kitchen Ministry, P.O. Box 7092, Abilene, TX 79608; Hendrick Hospice Care, 1651 Pine St., Abilene, TX 79601; or Baker Heights Church of Christ Missions Outreach, 5382 Texas Ave., Abilene, TX 79605.
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