Nelson Fitzgerald Craige III (Nels), 81, of Lancaster, passed away peacefully on December 31 at Landis Homes with all four of his children at his side after receiving wonderful care from the Landis Homes staff for over two years. He was the loving husband of Margaret Clarke Craige (Peggy) for over 58 years. Peggy predeceased Nels in March 2013.
Nelson was born July 8, 1933 in Sayre, Pennsylvania to Nelson F. Craige II and Jeannette Tyler Craige. He grew up in Montrose, Pennsylvania and graduated from Montrose Consolidated High School in June 1951. He entered Pennsylvania State College in the fall of 1951, but paused his college education in 1953 to serve in the Army, finally graduating from Penn State with a B.S. in Business in 1957.
Nels and Peggy moved to Lancaster in 1957 when Nels began his business career at Hamilton Watch. He worked at Hamilton for 15 years, starting as a finance trainee and serving as assistant controller, director of watch services, and lastly, general manager of watch production and service before moving to Sperry New Holland in 1972. Nels worked at New Holland for 16 years, serving as financial control manager for the North American division, controller for the Latin America – Far East division, and managing director of Ford New Holland’s operations in Australia.
Nels was a member of St. John’s Episcopal Church, Lancaster. He was a previous member of St. James, St. Thomas and, St. Edward’s Episcopal Churches, Lancaster and St. Faith’s Anglican Church in Burwood, Australia.
Nels always knew that there were certain responsibilities that belong to all Christians. He always unquestioningly and willingly put himself in positions where he could be of the most help. Nels was passionate about his community and church, including serving Lancaster’s United Way for over 20 years, and serving as warden of St. Thomas and vestry member of St. Thomas, St. Edward’s, St. Faith’s and St. John’s. Nels loved nothing more than giving back, joining Peggy, carpenter’s belt around his waist, in Miami after hurricane Andrew and in Mississippi after hurricane Katrina, repairing and re-building. He was an accomplished wood worker and loved making furniture for Peggy and his four children.
Nels rejoins his wife Peggy in heaven and is survived by his four children and their spouses, Nelson S. Craige and Carol of Pittsburgh, PA; Steven C. Craige and Mary Ann of Fredericksburg, VA; Susan C. Ritchey and Jim of Sterling, VA; Margaret J. Gebert and Paul of Pottstown, PA; six grandchildren: Sean J. Ritchey, Elizabeth A. Craige, Fiona C. Ritchey, Emma K. Craige, Madeline M. Gebert and Eloise A. Gebert; one brother, Richard T. Craige of Montrose, PA and two sisters, Linda C. Strack of Franklin, NC and Charlotte C. O’Hara of Forty Fort, PA.
Relatives and friends are respectfully invited to attend a Memorial Service at St. John’s Episcopal Church, 321 West Chestnut Street in Lancaster on January 23rd at 11 am with the Reverend John Morris and Reverend Jennifer Looker officiating and the Reverend Pete Greenfield preaching. Ashes will be interred in the St. John’s Memorial Garden at the conclusion of the service. Friends may greet the family at a luncheon reception following the service in the parish hall.
In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made in Nelson’s memory to Lancaster Area Habitat for Humanity, Landis Homes Caring Fund or Central Pennsylvania Food Bank.