Community mourns the loss of Dean Craig
Ilan Dean Craig, known by many as “Dean,” a longtime member of the Okmulgee Lions Club, passed away Wednesday, Feb. 7.
Though not a native of Okmulgee, he called the community home, having lived in Okmulgee for well over 70 years.
He served with many community organizations during his lifetime. He was honored in 2019 with 50 years of continuing service to the Lions Club International.
Craig was born in Enid, to parents Rev. and Mrs. Olen Craig. He graduated from Anadarko High School in 1956. He attended Southwestern Oklahoma State College in Weatherford before joining the U.S. Navy in 1960.
Craig was stationed in Pensacola, Fla., on the carrier U.S.S. Antietam. After being honorably discharged in 1962, he returned to Oklahoma, where he finished his degree at Northeastern State University, while working for the Department of Human Services. He began working for DHS on Jan. 2, 1963, retiring in 1990. He was a caseworker for 10 years, before being promoted to county administrator.
When he retired, he had administrative oversight of the 83 employees in the county and the programs he administered.
Craig then worked for the next 16 years as a Certified Alcohol/Drug Counselor.
As a member of Lions International and the Okmulgee Lions Club, he served as District Governor, local club president (1973-74), honored as Lion of the Year several times, and received the first District Lion of the Year Award in 1974. He was the recipient of the Melvin Jones Fellows Award in 2009.
Craig held the honor of “Director For Life.”
Craig also served as the charter president of the Okmulgee County Family YMCA, chairman of the Oklahoma- Arkansas YMCA Cluster, advisory board member and chairman of the Okmulgee Salvation Army. He was also a board member of the Okmulgee Day Care Center.
In 1990, he ran as a candidate for State Representative District 16.
As a writer, Craig provided weekly Lions Club News with his articles printed in the Okmulgee Times for almost 20 years. He was always willing to share his vast wealth of knowledge of Okmulgee County sports history.
In his younger years, Craig was part of a local quartet called “Gentry,” as the lead singer. Other members of the group included Gene Kaiser, Jim Conrady and Stan Rutherford, with instrumentalists Larry Sparkman, Richard Martin, Ron Summers and Johnny Nunn. (Information from Okmulgee Daily Times, 1991.)
He leaves behind his wife, Anita; their children, numerous grandchildren and great grandchildren; along with a host of other family, friends and organization members.
As of press time, no services had been set. That information will be updated as soon as received.
Craig always closed his articles for the Times with the slogan used by the Lions, “We Serve.”
He was the epitome of someone who served, and we thank him for all his contributions to the community.