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Lipscomb University lost a great leader and friend March 1 with the passing of former dean and vice president Dr. Mack Wayne Craig.
A well-known preacher, educator, story teller and historian, Craig, 85, played a vital role in the life and history of Lipscomb University.
“During an association spanning nearly 70 years, Mack Craig was instrumental in the growth of Lipscomb University. His leadership helped to position Lipscomb as one of the leading academic institutions in the region, a reputation we celebrate and continue to build on today. As one of the most recognizable names among Churches of Christ, Dr. Craig encouraged thousands toward a closer relationship with God and lives of faith and service. Lipscomb University would not be the vibrant community it is today without the influence of Mack Craig,” said Lipscomb President L. Randolph Lowry.
In January 1943 Dr. Craig enrolled at Lipscomb University, beginning a relationship with Lipscomb that would eventually cover almost half of the university’s history. After completing his two- year program at what was then David Lipscomb College in 1944, Dr. Craig began teaching a senior bible class at David Lipscomb High School. Once earning his bachelor’s degree at Vanderbilt University in 1946, he began teaching Bible and Latin classes full-time at the high school. Dr. Craig was principal of the high school from 1949-57. He received a master’s degree in 1948 and a doctorate in 1958 from Peabody College.
In 1957 Dr. Craig was appointed academic dean at Lipscomb, where he earned the nickname of the “lean dean.” While serving as dean, Dr. Craig began the tradition of Tuesday night outdoor devotionals on the steps of Collins Alumni Auditorium. After serving as dean for 21 years, he was appointed the institution’s vice president for institutional planning, a position that he held from 1978-83. He also served on Lipscomb’s Executive Council, and in 1979 was appointed as the director of the National Development Board. He retired from the university in 1985.
Dr. Craig started preaching as a high school student in Florida at the St. Augustine Church of Christ. He served as minister of Nashville-area Churches of Christ for more than 60 years, including the Reid Avenue, Whites Creek, Charlotte Avenue, Vultee, Hillsboro, and the Allensville (KY) congregations. In his last years he was an active member of the Crieve Hall Church of Christ.
He held Gospel meetings widely and is remembered for leading singing at the 1962 Collins-Craig meeting (attended by over 90,000 people), which was the first event held in the Municipal Auditorium. Many remember his powerful sermon, “There They Crucified Him,” which he preached every Easter.
After retirement from Lipscomb, Dr. Craig became a chaplain for the National Health Care Corporation and enjoyed 25 years serving the residents and staff of area nursing homes. He was also a much loved trainer and speaker throughout the national organization.
Dr. Craig had a love for history, including old houses and antiques. He restored the Pinewood Mansion in Hickman County in 1968, and the Pepper Place in Allensville, KY in 1983. Each house was open for tours, available for catered events, and operated as an antique shop. A noted story teller, Dr. Craig shared his love for Nashville and Civil War history with many groups and was active in numerous organizations dedicated to Nashville and Tennessee history. He also loved historic travel, and over a span of 50 years led tour groups in the United States, Europe, the Far East, and the Bible Lands.
Dr. Craig was preceded in death by his wife, Dorothy Anne Discher (Dottie) Craig in 1959 and his grandson, James Discher Craig in 1999. He is survived by sons Larry (Mary Lou) Craig and David (Sally) Craig and daughter Marnie Craig (David) Ferree. There are 5 grandchildren and 9 great grandchildren. He is also survived by a brother, Richard (Jan) Craig, and sister-in-law Mary Margaret (Phillip) Morrison and numerous nieces and nephews.
Services were held Friday, March 4 in Lipscomb’s Collins Alumni Auditorium.