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Atoka native celebrates milestone birthday with tales of survival

By Thomas Sellers Jr.

James Noah Craig has survived the flu epidemic of 1918.

Then Craig fought in World War II under General George S. Patton and lived to tell about the second wave of the D-Day Invasion. After walking away from a car wreck and brain aneurism, Craig was the guest of honor last Saturday in the William Hall on the campus of Millington First United Methodist Church.

Nearly 200 people came out to wish Craig ‘Happy 100th birthday.’ Born August 18, 1918 to James Allen Craig and the former Mary Ellen Holliman, the younger James went on to graduate from Munford High School in 1939.

The Atoka native was the third oldest of six children. The farming family instilled hard-working values in the man known as Noah.

In August 1940, Craig would put those lessons into action when he enlisted into the United State Army. Known to his peers as ‘Pappy,’ Craig served with the Hell on Wheels Division under Patton. He survived a German bombing to make it back home to raise his family with first wife Doris.

They wed on May 2, 1942. The union gave birth to son Otis Craig and daughter now known as Patricia Williams.

Craig’s family grew over time to add stepson Gene Anthony, four grandchildren and eight great grandchildren.

His home was always open to family giving him another name of ‘Uncle Noah.’ His niece Pam expressed words through an open letter of her uncle’s generosity, genuine care and attention to detail.

The boy from the Beaver Community of Atoka grew up to serve almost three years in the Army and become an accountant for a few companies.

After Doris passed away in 1996, Craig found love again with now wife Bernice. They are still going strong with almost 21 years of marriage.

Bernice could be spotted holding the hand of the man she loves at the birthday ceremony. She was right by his side a few years earlier to save her husband’s life when he suffered an aneurism while driving. Her quick thinking and call to 911 is one of the reasons “Noahie” was able to see his 100th birthday.

“I feel about the same as I did when I turned 90,” Craig said jokingly. “But I could walk then. Now I just can’t walk.

“But I’m here because of the grace of God,” he concluded. “He’s why I am here today to see my family and friends. He’s the reason I am here today.”

Craig and guests celebrated the occasion with food, fellowship and a special designed cake by Sweet T’s Bakery of Oxford, Miss. The cake illustrated Craig’s love of fishing with an open-mouth bass.

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