‘Bobbie’ Craig fulfills dream of living ‘in heaven’ on Sanibel
“I wonder if this is what heaven looks like?” Those were the words of Barbara “Bobbie” Ann Craig after crossing the Sanibel Causeway with her family in 1967.
Ever since that day, the Craig family became a piece of the Sanibel Island fabric. Bobbie specifically became a mainstay on Sanibel, working for the Island Reporter selling advertisement and later along with Keith Trowbridge, developed and sold Clearview maps to all the local merchants.
Craig passed away on Sept. 24, 2015, after becoming a lifelong Sanibel ambassador, something she was able to create inspired by her love for the Gulf barrier island. A memorial will be held for “Bobbie” at 11 a.m. Saturday, June 25, at St. Michael’s & All Angels Episcopal Church, 2304 Periwinkle Way.
“She always saw the beauty and serenity the island of Sanibel represents and forever wanted to be a part of it,” said Bobbie’s son Matthew Craig, who is now the chief executive officer of Pinkerton and Laws of Florida Inc. “I like to think she hit it just right the first time she came over the causeway in 1967.”
Bobbie was born July 15, 1933, in Westchester County, N.Y. and was the first child of Gladys and William Carlisle Johnson. She and Phillip Craig were married in New York on Oct. 22, 1955 and lived down the east coast in Pittsburgh, PA; Cincinnati, Ohio; Cleveland, Ohio and eventually Sanibel.
She passed away in Bend, Ore., and was preceded in death by husband Philip Craig and son, Jeffrey Craig. She is survived by brother, Bill Johnson, son Matthew Craig, daughter Jennifer Craig and four grandchildren.
Any thoughts of gratitude can be donated to CROW at 3883 Sanibel/Captiva Road, Sanibel, Fla., 33957, or by calling (239) 472-3644.
When the Craig family took off from their small Ohio town of Chagrin Falls in 1967 inside a 1965 Ford station wagon, along with their black lab Tanga, by the end of their 20-hour trip, the family’s lives would change.
“That day, no one had any idea how our lives would be forever changed for the better by an island none of us had ever heard of,” Matthew said.
The family met Captiva legend Andy Rosse, who taught them how to fish the Gulf, just to add to the mysticism of Sanibel for the Craig family.
The trip to Sanibel was the main topic talked around the dinner table the ensuing year and with friends.
“There was a feeling among us all, that we had just scratched the surface of a heavenly place and it was now a part of each of our souls,” Matthew said.
The next spring, along with the family friends, the Brewers, another trip back to Sanibel was in order. But, this time, Philip and Mr. Brewer announced they were going to try and purchase a place on Sanibel, thus making it an annual destination to paradise official.
The purchase eventually became High Tide Cottages on West Gulf Drive. Gladys Craig, the grandmother of the family, moved down to Sanibel to become the manager of the newly purchased resort.
In 1979, Philip sold his interest in his boat manufacturing business, and along with Bobbie, moved into the Dunes on Sanibel. He started the Fort Myers Yacht and Ship Building, in which he later sold.
Philip unfortunately passed away unexpectedly in 1981, which potentially pointed to a move back to Chagrin Falls for Bobbie.
Not so fast.
“She was a strong, pleasantly stubborn woman and would have none of it,” Matthew said. “Sanibel Island was her home and where she wanted to be. She loved the island and felt my father there. Our family was so proud of her strength and independence.”
High Tide Cottages was sold to John Naumann, who developed the resort into a condominium colony, which was aptly named High Tide.
Bobbie became a regular face among the Sanibel residents.
“She was gifted at listening, caring and mentoring people in need,” Matthew said. “She was a card-carrying member of the Red Hat Ladies and adored all of the women. Her love of Labrador Retrievers and Cocker Spaniels meant there was always a great family dog or two in the house.”
Bobbie helped create the Firemen Appreciation Day, in which residents at her assisted living facility would bake, deliver and celebrate the efforts and sacrifices from the firemen.
Matthew said his mother’s wishes were to have her ashes spread over the Gulf just off of High Tide.
So from her first trip across the Sanibel Causeway back in 1967, to her countless days enjoying what the island has to offer, her question was undoubtedly answered after a life of spending it exactly where she belonged.
“Yes mom, this is what heaven looks like,” Matthew concluded.