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Craig D. Creel, Esq., who grew up in Las Vegas as a trail-blazing athlete, attorney, father and friend, died Wednesday at home in Wake Forest, NC, after an arduous and courageous fight with brain cancer. He was 64.
The cause of death was a glioblastoma, but Craig fought cancer and other difficult illnesses his entire life. No one would have known this as he was “the healthiest sick person” one could ever know. Craig exhibited boundless energy; his optimism and charm were infectious, noticeable to all upon his entrance into a room.
Craig was one of the best athletes Las Vegas produced, who as a child growing up in the 1950s and 60s had an almost maniacal passion for baseball, falling to sleep many nights listening to the Dodgers broadcast on his transistor radio.
Craig loved to practice until he perfected his skills: shooting, serving, pitching, hitting, throwing, putting, and chipping. He was an acclaimed pitcher, recruited by the Kansas City Royals out of high school to play catcher, Nevada’s number one-ranked high school tennis player, a member of the UNLV tennis team, the city’s Punt-Pass-and Kick winner, the annual Free Throw Shooter winner, a state basketball champion, and scratch golfer who was widely recognized as one of the best amateur golfers in Las Vegas. As a first-year baseball recruit at the University of Arizona, even Ted Williams told him to never change his swing!
If Craig’s notorious high school years as an impressive athlete did not precede him, more would have taken note of his high intellect. As a voracious reader from a young age, his library was impressive, his Bible study commendable, and his knowledge of history exemplary. He enjoyed high fantasy most of all and was a storyteller himself, having completed the beginnings of an adventure novel around the time his dream business, BrainTrust Tutors, was born. Craig was a beautiful writer who also taught English at UNLV and Sacramento State as well as Constitutional Law at Peace College.
Craig had a very successful career as a reputable trial attorney in the western United States. A graduate of the McGeorge School of Law in 1982, where he won the Mock Trial competition, he applied his intellect, humor, and dedication to helping hundreds of defendants as a Public Defender in Clark County, Nevada; as a medical malpractice attorney for St. Paul Insurance in Portland, Oregon; and as a corporate and personal defense attorney in private practice in Las Vegas. Craig trained hundreds of attorneys in trial techniques, produced ethics courses, and was roundly respected in the Las Vegas legal community. He was admitted to practice law before the Nevada, California, and Oregon Supreme Courts. His appellate briefs continue to be taught at the UNLV School of Law.
As much as Craig loved to read, he arguably loved music even more. He could sing and entertained a lifelong study and admiration of great classical music and jazz. His favorite classical pieces were usually Russian, and the piano works of Rachmaninov always chief among them. He also had a special appreciation for “The Sultan of Swoon”. Having seen Sinatra in person many times, Craig maintained tremendous respect his whole life for Frank’s romantic style. Craig adored films and as he became sicker in life, spent more time appreciating his favorites such as the miniseries adaptation of Larry McMurty’s Lonesome Dove, Herman Wouk’s War & Remembrance, and Andrew Davies’ adaptation of Charles Dickens’ Little Dorritt. With his forever, adoring wife, Molly, they cherished Italian works of art such as the film Cinema Paradiso and the Young Montalbano series.
Early to rise, a quick wit, and armed with the independent spirit of a western cowboy, it was only natural that he was looked upon by many as a role model. The elder of five younger siblings -- Curt, Cory, Christy, Clay, Carey -- and father to five boys himself -- Matthew, Alec, Trevor, Sean, and Ryan -- he was at ease with children, dedicating much of his life to coaching and teaching youngsters. He helped numerous high school students earn Division I baseball scholarships, mentored his nieces and nephews, and founded his dream business, BrainTrust Tutors, to help all children reach their God-given potential. Opening a tutoring business was a two-decade vision which Craig finally realized in the Raleigh Triangle in 2006, also hometown to his father Charles ‘Chuck’ Creel of Chapel Hill, NC.
Craig was a spiritual, contemplative, and god-fearing man who strived to reach his potential in all facets of life and impressed those around him of the nobility of such a struggle. His never-dying, conscientious resilience and optimism about life in the face of tremendous physical ailment and pain was a testament to his psychological fortitude and simple toughness in the face of hardship. He had a relationship with Jesus Christ and hoped to inspire his younger boys Alec and Matthew. Craig was also quite proud of his older boys Trevor, Sean, and Ryan. He is survived by his loving wife Molly (Marguerite), his parents, Charles and Susann ‘Sue’ Creel, and six adorable grandchildren – Luke, Connor, Annique, Hayden, McKinley, and Sean Jr.
In lieu of flowers, please consider making a donation in Craig’s name to the North Wake County Baseball Association: NWCBA, 1845 Grandmark Street, Wake Forest, NC, 27587.
A funeral service will be held at 1 o'clock, Friday, December 28, 2018 at St. John’s Episcopal Church. Burial will follow in the Wake Forest Cemetery.