Friends Carry On 28-Year Vigil for Roosevelt Graduate David Craig
Though he died tragically in 1984, his friends refuse to forget the Greenbelter who wore "cocky" well.
In 1984, a train struck David Craig's car at the Sunnyside and Beltsville train crossing, ending the life of the popular Eleanor Roosevelt High School graduate. Today, a new group of Roosevelt students, who never knew him, are finding out about the cocky and generous Greenbelter because the class of '79 is not about to let them forget.
"When he died it sucked the wind out of a lot of his friends," says Doug Mangum, who first met Craig as a kid singing with him in the Mowatt Memorial United Methodist Church youth choir. "You've heard the expression life of the party. He was the life of pretty much anything."
On Labor Day weekend, Mangum and a group of Craig's classmates and friends will descend on the Greenbelt American Legion. They plan to hold a reunion —with a mission— from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. It's called the Raider Roast, and everyone is invited.
Since Craig died, the friends have continued to raise funds in his name for an Eleanor Roosevelt High School senior, someone who shows the Craig-spirit. Just what that is and why it continues to draw those who knew him together is something Mangum tried to describe.
He was a leader, who was full of personality and confidence—and he made people around him better, according to Mangum. If you went to a party with him and didn't know anyone, he'd introduce you, Mangum said.
He was kind, he was funny, and he was a county tennis finalist who volunteered his talents to teach kids through the Greenbelt National Junior Tennis League, according to Mangum.
But he was more than that to Mangum, who searched for a way to describe his best friend. "Cocky" was the word his mind landed on—with pride. Craig wasn't just cocky, he was very cocky, in a teasing way that you didn't mind, he added.
If there was any kind of sports activity going on, he'd pull you into it, saying, "Come on out here. You want to get beat," Mangum said.
A non-traditional scholarship, The David Craig Memorial Scholarship Fund, gives seniors with Craig-like attitudes points. Its board looks for someone who might get passed over in a scholarship focused only on grades.
Their motto is "Well Rounded - Well Rewarded."
The annual drive to raise money for a Roosevelt senior is not the group's only effort.
Before the accident, Craig, who was 23, and had recently graduated from Frostburg State University, set out on a camping trip with some buddies to farmland his family owns near Fort Ashby, WV.
A group of those stubborn buddies never stopped going. Now, tagging Craig's nickname into its title, they call it the annual "Maggs" trip.
Craig's dad, who was a veteran, died in April, Mangum said. But in the 28 years following his son's death, he got a phone call every March telling him that his son's friends were setting off on the trip, and he loved getting that call, Mangum said.
To know friends were getting together on the family's farm to remember his son, made it "worth paying the property taxes on it," Mangum said.
This Saturday will be another chapter in their eternal vigil. Tickets to the Raider Roast are $25. For those 13- to 18-years-old, tickets are $15. Those 12-years-old and under get in for $10. The Stu Judd Band will perform, donating its time, and The American Legion is donating its facilities.
Come on out for a menu that includes roasted pig, hamburgers, cheeseburgers, fried chicken, coleslaw, potato salad, baked beans, corn on the cob, sodas, draft beer, and more.
A feast of memories are also on the menu—and on the house—the house that Maggs built.