Donovan (Donnie) Craig, Sr. was born in Portland, Oregon to adoring parents Walter Craig and Dian Harris Craig Jackson on March 12, 1949. Donnie shared these loving parents with one older brother, Ron, a younger brother, Walter and the youngest, a sister, Valerie. At the young age of eight years old, Donnie accepted Jesus Christ as his personal Savior and was baptized by the late Dr. J. James Clow at Mt. Olivet Baptist Church. There, he happily participated in the Children’s Choir and many other youth activities.
Donnie attended Boise Elementary School for kindergarten and then attended and was promoted from Irvington Elementary School. He graduated from Grant High School in 1967, a proud Grantonian General! Following high school, Donnie was temporarily employed by the U.S. Postal Service while attending Portland State University part-time. In 1968, he started his employment at Qwest Communications, (formerly Pacific NW Bell/US West “Ma Bell”). He began as a draftsman in the Engineering Department. During his 32 years there, Donnie worked in several departments in various professional capacities, retiring in 2000.
Donnie met Anita Mitchell in 1968 while employed at Pacific NW Bell. They were in the same New Hire Orientation class. After a long courtship, they were joined in Holy Matrimony on July 18, 1981. The couple’s 39th wedding anniversary is next month. To this union, God blessed them with one daughter, Catrece and a son, Donovan Jr. Don’s devotion to family was a life-long commitment that he took very seriously. Don’s selflessness was exhibited in countless loving ways, committed to his wife and children. Their union mirrored the one between God and His church. Donnie was the consummate father and husband! Ask anyone! He was the most giving, loving and caring Father a child could have. Once grandchildren were born, he gained the title of the “Best Grandpa Ever!” Donnie will be forever remembered by his namesake Donnie Jr., his daughter who he called his “Baby Doll” and his grandchildren for teaching each of them The Lord’s Prayer.
It was in 1986 that Donnie decided to return to college. In 1988, he earned an Associate of Applied Science Degree from Portland Community College. While working full-time and also raising a family, he began to pursue even higher education and in 1994, he received his Bachelor of Science Degree from Concordia University.
Donnie really had a heart for service and especially to serve the seniors in the community. It was soon after retirement from Qwest that Donnie began serving as a volunteer at Elders in Action. He was soon hired as the Volunteer Community Education Coordinator. When the program’s funding ended, Donnie looked elsewhere to serve and share his passion to work with seniors. Donnie truly was not one to completely retire! He next began volunteering at Meals on Wheels, later becoming employed as the Volunteer Coordinator, working there for three years.
In 2007, Donnie began his employment at Portland Public Schools as a Para-Educator, working with Special Education students. He began as a substitute teacher, later becoming employed full-time at Roseway Heights Middle School. Donnie passionately and fervently worked with these students displaying his traits of innate patience, calmness, care and compassion. He knew that special needs students, though sometimes challenging and stressful, blossomed when given more attention and made to feel safe and loved. Donnie excelled in his role for over eight years, working tirelessly to make his students feel valued and cherished. After retiring yet again, he continued as a substitute at various schools in the PPS district, requesting only schools in the North and Northeast corridor. He continued working until the day God called him home.
Donnie was a lifelong member of Mt. Olivet Baptist Church. Over the years, he served as a member of the Prison Ministry, TeleCare Ministry and Property Management Team. Donnie and Anita were called and ordained to be a Deacon and Deaconess at the church. However, Donnie’s greatest joy in church service was he and Anita’s leadership of the OASIS (Older Adults Still in Service) Ministry. For over 20 years the OASIS ministry was his heart. OASIS celebrated its 20 year anniversary with Donnie and Anita as their leaders in September 2019. During these two decades, they coordinated many joyous field trips, celebrated countless seniors’ birthdays, many 100 year-old birthday parties and numerous monthly OASIS luncheons, fellowship events and church gatherings.
He enjoyed a variety of sports. In 1963 Donovan won a championship title at Matt Dishman Community Center for Novice Championship boxing (weight 105 lbs.).
Donnie also enjoyed recalling those “glory” years (back-in-the-day) of being on the Mt. Olivet Baptist Church’s City and State Championship Basketball teams. Each time the story was re-told, the number of points scored increased by ten more points. He played and coached little league baseball at Irving Park, played co-ed softball on Ma Bell employee teams and played basketball on the United Way basketball team.
Donnie was a gentle, tender-hearted and kind man. He will be long remembered for taking his family (along with their many cousins and friends) to Lincoln City, Seaside and other Oregon Coast vacation spots. Donnie loved the Pacific Ocean and traveled there often. He also enjoyed going to family reunions with both sides of his family.
Family was so important to Donnie and within his family, he held special titles that he wore with pride – affectionately called “Pops”, “Brother Don” and “Uncle Donnie” were his favorites. Donnie was also an honorable “father figure” to the friends of his children who called him “Daddy Craig.” Hearing each title brought a special smile to his face and warmed his heart because they were adorned upon him with love. Donnie served as counselor to the youth in his life, always a listening ear with an open mind and heart.
Let us forever remember a few things that Donnie absolutely loved! Donnie was a man with style and was always decked out from head to toe, literally, from the hat on his head to his shoes! He was always, always perfectly groomed, taking great pride in his appearance. He also loved old school music and was passionate about his favorite group, The Temptations. He even added his own photo to a framed photo of The Temptations, making himself an honorary member. Another love of Donnie’s was Black movies. His children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews all grew up watching the movies that he loved with him such as The Wiz, Sparkle, Roots, The Five Heartbeats, and more.
Donovan (Donnie) Craig, Sr. leaves to cherish his precious memory: His beloved wife, Anita Frances Craig; Mother, Dian Craig Jackson, Daughter, Catrece Dawnita Craig; Son, Donovan Craig, Jr. (Milus), Grandsons: Teron, Davon and granddaughter, Alexis; brothers; Ron and Walter (Julie); sister, Valerie (Charles); beloved adopted son Joseph Richard Manning (Jamille), many in-laws who he did not consider in-laws, but loved as his brothers and sisters, multiple godchildren, adored nieces and nephews, a host of cousins, extended family and friends.
Don was preceded in death by his grandparents Ira and Louise Harris, father, Walter Craig, Sr., stepfather John H. Jackson, grandson Jackson Kyree Craig, mother-in-law Pearl Smothers Mashia, uncle Carl Harris and aunt Annie Harris, brother-in-law Willie Thomas, Sr., nephew Leonard James “L.J.” Irving, Jr., and sister-in-law Cynthia Craig.
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