Remembering Craig Jurney
at the Oshman Family JCC
on January 11, 2020 at 4:00
November 15, 1963 – November 20, 2019
Craig was born in November of 1963, in what is now the “old” Stanford Hospital but was new then. I was teaching Social Studies at a high school in Sunnyvale while working on my master’s degree in education. His mother had just completed 15 months as the receptionist at Stanford Law School.
I remember so clearly the day he was born. In those dark ages, husbands were not allowed to be in the delivery room; so I waited in the room set aside for that purpose. The hospital had a tradition: Once the baby had been cleaned up, mother and child were wheeled out in a hospital bed and presented to the waiting family—in this case, just me. I remember how elated I was. After a short visit I left the hospital, but myself a cigar, and sent a couple of telegrams (remember those?) to our parents. Patti’s boss, the Dean of the Stanford Law School, presented me with a nice bottle of Scotch and a small, red-and-white Stanford football.
Craig was always an active kid. Patti baby-sat another boy the same age, and the contrast between the two was amazing. Jimmy just sat in the play pen, moving his arms but never his legs, while Craig crawled all around the play pen and the front yard! He had a high metabolic rate and was a tough kid to put to sleep—most nights, we had to rub his back for 15 minutes or so before he drifted off. His brother Steve, three years later, needed no such encouragement. Craig always led an athletic and adventurous life.
As a four and five-year old, he had trouble pronouncing some words. In the second grade, an audiologist determined that he had been born with a hearing loss. A hearing aid helped a lot, and he never had any trouble in school. In fact, he was always at the top of his class, intellectually curious and a voracious reader. His collection of books, which has taken over much of the family house, puts mine to shame.
Craig was a dapper 15-year-old, wearing a plaid Scottish cap and a velvet coat while sporting a silver tipped walking stick. Later it was a Qiana shirt, flared double-knit trousers and stacked heels—we called it his “John Revolta” look. He liked dancing, was popular with the girls and had a steady stream of girlfriends. He was a good athlete; a family friend who was two years ahead of Craig in school told me that as a sophomore, Craig challenged the seniors who were also running the 400 meters and pushed them to run faster. He also played varsity basketball—he had a 27-inch vertical leap and was a great shot blocker.
From about age 16 on, Craig talked about wanting to have a family of his own. Fortunately, he met Erika, and they have three boys—Henry, Ed, and Charlie—who are all in high school at this point. He finally got the family he had wanted for so long, and he didn’t waste his chance—coaching each of his boys in sports, taking them on trips, helping with homework and just being Dad and being around his boys a lot of the time. My observation is that he’s also been a great husband to Erika, as well as a great son and son-in-law.
Here’s a story that will tell you something about Craig’s character. He worked in Oregon for about a year, and then was offered a job at Stanford. He asked me if he could borrow my Chevron credit card for his trip down to California. I said sure, and handed him the card. He said he would only need it for the trip to Palo Alto.
Well, not exactly. Three years pass, and he still had the Chevron card!
At the end of that three years we took a trip to Palo Alto to see Craig and Erika. We were sitting in the Peninsula Creamery, waiting for Craig to show up. He walked in and handed me a packet. In it were:
- The Chevron card
- Every Chevron charge slip for the past three years
- An Excel spread sheet, listing all of the charges and calculating interest owed
- A check to me for the full amount—including the interest!
I’m pretty sure many fathers have had a different experience with their kids!
And so you leave us, Craig, leaving us desolate at your absence, missing your laugh, your skill as a cook, your willingness to argue either side of a discussion for the enjoyment you got from engaging in it. I will miss those long phone conversations in which we discussed the books we’d been reading. I will miss the excitement in your voice as you would tell me about your latest discovery. The sun will be a little less bright tomorrow morning. Farewell, my beautiful son.