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Proclamation marks ‘Homer and Ursula Craig Day’ in Pittsburgh | The Homepage

By Juliet Martinez, Managing Editor

Generations of the Craig family joined friends and neighbors at Pittsburgh City Council chambers on Feb. 13 to surprise lifelong Hazelwoodians Homer and Ursula Craig with a proclamation in their honor.

District 5 Councilor Barb Warwick declared it “Homer and Ursula Craig Day,” and praised them for their dedication to their community. She said Joe Hepner of Hazelwood suggested the proclamation.

“They are an institution. They’re at every event. They’re always helping,” she said, noting that Mr. Craig contributes something wise and insightful at every meeting he attends. And, she said, Ms. Craig is not afraid to hold the councilmember accountable.

“Every election, I’m like, I don’t know. Am I getting Miss Ursula’s vote? I hope so,” she said.

The proclamation notes Mr. Craig’s childhood on Monongahela Street in Hazelwood, his Army service in Germany where he met his future wife, then Ursula Wolf. They married in 1964. Mr. Craig was a Pittsburgh police officer from 1967 to 1994 when he retired as a sergeant.

A group of people stand in Pittsburgh's City Council chambers.
Homer and Ursula Craig (center, holding proclamation) with their son Sascha (left of Mr. Craig), several of their grandchildren and great-grandchildren, city councilors Khari Moseley and Barb Warwick (far left), Daniel Lavelle and Bobby Wilson (at rear) and Bob Charland (rear left), and friends and neighbors from Hazelwood. Photo by Juliet Martinez

Ms. Craig volunteers with three food banks and Hazelwood Initiative’s annual Safe Halloween event. She is also a member of JADA House International and Arts Excursions Unlimited.

They are both members of Holy Cross Evangelical Lutheran Chapel, Hazelwood Initiative and the Monongahela-Marsden Block Association. Mr. Craig is also a member of the Greater Hazelwood Community Collaborative and the YMCA.

Praising them for the decades they have “consistently worked to advocate for the needs of Hazelwood residents, and have made the community safer, more welcoming and more beautiful,” the proclamation says they “have touched the lives of countless Hazelwood families and hold a special place in so many Hazelwood hearts.”

In his brief remarks, Mr. Craig stressed his gratitude for his wife and family.

“I wouldn’t be me without her,” he said. “I’m proud of what I did in the community but I’m more proud of the family that has supported me and allowed me to be who I am. And when I say the family, I’m not just talking about blood lines.”

He named Howard Jackson, who had arrived at the council meeting not knowing the Craigs would be honored that day. The two go back 35 or 40 years, Mr. Craig said. “He’s like a son too. I want him to be acknowledged too.”

Mr. Jackson recalled his childhood at Saint Stephens School in Hazelwood, and how then-Officer Craig taught him the importance of unity as essential for changing lives, steering him away from more divisive ideologies.

“And I’m thankful for Mom. Oh, she already knows I call her ‘Mom,’” he said, smiling at Ms. Craig.

He added later that Mr. Craig was a “guardian angel father” to the whole neighborhood. “I’ve been a community activist all my life and it started from his mentorship,” he said.

Reverend Michael Murray of Hazelwood also said he had come to view Mr. Craig as a father figure.

“I know you’re filled with wisdom and that’s why I tap you as a resource,” he said.

Four generations of Craigs attended, including the honorees’ granddaughter Whitney Craig, who lives in Texas and spoke via Zoom.

“You always foster the idea of leaving something better than you found it,” she said. Whitney recalled Ms. Craig taking her to different churches, the Jewish Community Center and the community garden. She said she did not enjoy these outings but now appreciates what they taught her.

“I encourage everyone to live like Homer and Ursula Craig and leave the world better than you found it,” she concluded.

Pastor Benjamin Janssen of Holy Cross Evangelical Lutheran Chapel praised the Craigs’ dedication to helping others, as well as the friendship they extended to him as a relative newcomer in the community.

“Behind the closed doors, behind the public meetings and everything, they always care about not only today but creating a better future for the community tomorrow,” he said, describing how Mr. Craig is always thinking about how to engage children and improve their lives. He marveled at Ms. Craig’s support of three food banks and the positive example their seemingly tireless activity sets for others. “In their retirement they never retired,” he said.

Juanita Godfrey, a neighbor and fellow member of the Monongahela-Marsden Block Association who has known the Craigs since childhood, testified to the couple’s unending desire to be of service.

“Someone asked me the other night, ‘What’s her title?’ I said, ‘She’s everywhere, doing everything for everybody.’ So we thank you, Miss Craig, we thank you, Homer,” Ms. Godfrey said.

Dave Brewton, the outgoing real estate director for Hazelwood Initiative, thanked the couple for their friendship and noted that Mr. Craig has worked to preserve neighborhood history.

“I know that the Woods House, the oldest house in the city, would not be standing if you hadn’t fought — long before I got to Hazelwood — to keep it there,” Mr. Brewton said.

Mr. Craig marveled later that no one had spoiled the surprise.

“They all kept the secret from me,” Mr. Craig said after the event. “The people in Hazelwood could work for the CIA because they can keep a secret!”


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