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Craig VanLaanen Memorial
(given at Craig's Last Service)

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Craig had a way of creating a certain amount of permission that allowed him to say just about anything, just about anywhere - whether it was appropriate or not. So I thought about that, and I thought, "if it was my service, what would Craig say about me?" And I realized that there were no limits at all! … Cause Craig would say just about anything… and probably your most embarrassing story was the one he would recall.

So I thought about it, and I thought, "well, that time on the Indiana Dunes?" No… can't tell that one. "That time coming back from the boathouse at camp?" No… I don't think I could tell that one, so … Jody and I have agreed that I will be careful…

I had the honor and the pleasure of being a real good friend of Craig's. He was my teacher, he was my best friend, he was somebody I spent a lot of time on the road with. And I think about all of the time I spent with him over the years and to me it's something I'll never outgrow.

I remember once we were going to take a road trip after camp. We were talking with Dr. Roloff, and he asked Craig to please tell the physicians at camp not to prescribe the latest and most fashionable antibiotics, because it was really kind of a drag to have these people come back from camp wondering whether there Doctor was up on the latest, and stuff like that… And Craig kinda said, "Well, you know, it sounds like one of those Doctor's egos things to me…" (and this to a very highly-placed man). And Dr. Roloff, of course, quickly retorted, "Well, I didn't give up my ego when I became a Doctor, now, did I?"

It was that sense of familiarity, and that sense of being a colleague, and that sense of shared, common purpose I think everybody that worked with Craig had. That there is a number-one commitment to the kid. And the kid was the most important thing in the world.

On that same trip Craig and I were driving back to Coldwater, and at the time I had a 300Z, which were both pretty proud of. We spent a lot time together in that car. We were on our way back to Coldwater, and we had opened it up just about as far as she could go. We were on the county roads outside of Coldwater. All of a sudden I looked down and every light on my dashboard was lit up! I had never seen any of those lights before, and now all of them were lit up!

The temperature of the thing was slowly going towards max. So he was my bombardier/navigator (in a lot of ways), and so we said, "OK… what are we going to do? Stop? Don't Stop?" And so he coached me, and basically what happened is we got into his subdivision, and just as we turned into his driveway - the car gave out… But it waited to give out until we got into his driveway… We were both too exhausted from camp to consider doing anything about it. So Craig arranged for Jody's brother to come and fix it. And it was that kind of networking, through Craig, that to me was part of the magic that he created everywhere he went… That the car would stay together long enough to get you back to the corral, and then he'd know someone who would be able to fix it.

I kinda want to touch a few bases of things I learned from him, while we were driving… One of the things he was fiercely proud of was his professional status. I don't know, but I think for me one of the biggest things was watching kids looking up to Craig and seeing a man who is married to a beautiful woman, is a good husband, is a professional, and just really showed up - not only for himself, but for everyone else.

He was fiercely proud of his status as a colleague, and the respect that was shown to him by Ken Bandy, Dr. Roloff, Mary, Liz,… Everybody seemed to know that they could check in with Craig, and the best possible solution would be found.

I got to be friends with him at CF camp. He set me up to go to CF camp my first time. Didn't show up my first year, but showed up my 2nd year.

That's really how we solidified our friendship. He was fiercely proud of CF camp. For him, Rule #1 was "HAVE FUN!". And rule #2 … doesn't matter. Sometimes we'd get all twisted up in knots, and we'd be going at each other, and every once in a while somebody would have to bring it up: Hey! What about Rule #1? And then the obvious solution would present itself.

I know he was fiercely proud of Trails Edge Camp, which (for those of you who might not know) is a camp for kids who happen to be ventilator dependent. Many of them are quadriplegic, or have other diseases that cause them to need assistance in breathing. He was instrumental in creating that, and he was instrumental in getting a lot of people home for the first time - while still on a ventilator.

He was fiercely proud of Tom Parton back there, and although you folks may be in the back row here today, I know, for a fact, that you were always in the front row in Craig's mind and heart. And your ability to be self sufficient, to be here, to be yourselves - under the situations that you've been given - was one of Craig's greatest joys. I know that for sure.


I've learned a lot from Craig about being a husband - something I hope to be one day. He just loved Jody so much… It ran through his core. One day he told me that the best thing he ever did in his life … the thing he's proudest of … was to convince Jody to marry him. He said the easiest thing in his life was to ask Jody to marry him. But that he had to work on her for a while…

I know for sure as I stand here that the reason he made 41 years is because he enjoyed the love, and the support, and the commitment, and the caring of one of the finest human beings I've ever met.

Again… so many stories, but not enough time… One of things that Craig and I shared was a sense of spirituality… a sense of presence… a sense of something larger than him, or I, or any of us … that runs through us all. He happened to be very fond of reading Joel S. Goldsmith, who coined "The Infinite Way". We would often talk for long periods of time about who we are, and what it is that runs us…

And I know, deep in my heart, that Craig has finished his job here. And that we all have our work to do now. I know that I'm a better human being for having been close to Craig. And I want to say to you, Craig, "That I miss you. I'll always love you. Fly, my brother! Fly! Because you've helped each of us to fly in our own way. And as long as anyone in this room lives… any of us here …

You Will Be Remembered!