Remembering Kelly Craig

In March, UCAR/NCAR was confronted with the sad news of the death of Kelly Craig, 20, EOL’s Web developer. A memorial was held on March 11 in Longmont, where Kelly lived.

Kelly first came to NCAR in 2004 as a student assistant in F&A, moving into a student assistant systems administrator position in EOL a year later. Three years later he became the Web developer in EOL. He was known around the division for his remarkable knowledge of computers and technology, along with a willingness to share that knowledge.

“If it ran on electricity, Kelly could answer any question about it,” says EOL co-worker Sara Metz. “I can’t stress how much he knew about computers. And he was really generous with his time and knowledge. There was nobody he would not help.”

As a student assistant in F&A at only 15 years of age, Kelly worked on Web development and documentation. “He was a whiz kid,” recalls IT head Shawn Winkleman.

 Kelly finished high school at Weld Central at 15 and immediately started college, attending Aims Community College, the University of Phoenix, and Westwood College, where he was finalizing a triple bachelor’s degree in IT systems and security. A jack-of-all-trades who loved computers, he immersed himself in everything from Web development and systems administration to software engineering and multimedia. Much of his expertise, including Linux and Unix, was self taught.

“He seemed to have the ability to voraciously consume information and work with technology,” says Markus Stobbs (CISL), who heads the Web Engineering Group (WEG), of which Kelly was part. “He would find out about a technology, download it, tinker with it, and build something. He was good at anything he turned his attention to.”

Kelly Craig with a small dog in his sweatshirt.

Markus recalls that once, during a WEG meeting, group members were discussing how they wished they had the technical ability to carry out a very specific action in Drupal, the content management system for the UCAR/NCAR website. While they were discussing, Kelly, who had a laptop during the meeting, managed to locate a module for that exact function, install it, and do a successful demonstration.

Kelly was also known for his sense of humor. “Kelly had probably the biggest and most infectious laugh that I’ve heard,” says his supervisor, Julie Petro. “It was fun to make him laugh because I liked hearing it.

“He had a very bright, quick mind, and would share really profound insights on things,” she adds. “You’d almost forget that he was only 20.”

Kelly’s mother, Shelley Richards-Craig, has worked in F&A since 1985. Kelly and his brother, Casey, grew up in what Shelley describes as “a world like none other,” helping their parents manage The Wild Animal Sanctuary, a refuge in Keenesburg for abandoned, abused, and illegally kept wild animals.

“He rolled around with baby animals even before he could walk,” Shelley says. “Everything from lions and tigers to bears, wolves, coyotes, pigs, horses, camels, and on and on. He cared deeply for the animals we were providing a safe haven for.”

Shelley recalls that, starting about age three, Kelly decided that if something had a button, he would push it to find out what it would do. “Then by age five, if it was electronic he would take it apart and put it back together. It always worked,” she says.

In his free time, Kelly enjoyed online gaming, surfing the Internet for new information, and spending time with friends and family. He liked helping people and was known for his mischievous nature, which included playing practical jokes on friends and co-workers. He never said no to a bowl of pasta, Red Bull, Mountain Dew, or going to a movie.

Shelley has asked that contributions in Kelly’s name be made to the sanctuary, where Kelly’s father and brother are caring for the animals that Kelly grew up with.