Loretta Craig
Loretta Craig
Loretta Craig

Obituary of Loretta Marie Craig

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Loretta Marie Jaynes Rettew Craig passed to her heavenly reward Monday February 26, 2024, in Austin, Texas. She suffered through all stages of dementia over the last 10 years and her passing has released her from the pain and confusion dementia causes. Loretta was born July 21, 1937 in Santa Ana, California to Milburn and Hazel (Aldrich) Jaynes. Loretta was proud of her maternal family’s native California roots. She was thrilled when she found out her 2x great grandparents, Ira and Lois (Lockwood) Aldrich helped settle and name the streets in La Habra, California, her 2x great grandfather C.D. Manning was an elected official, Los Angeles County Supervisor and her great grandfather Fred Aldrich started and served on the organization that would become the Chamber of Commerce for LaHabra. Loretta’s early years were spent in the home of her maternal grandparents, Harry and May (Enyart) Aldrich, in Costa Mesa, California, while her mother Hazel worked as a Rosie the Riveter during WWII. Loretta was seven when the war ended. Hazel remarried Gilbert H. Rettew (Gil), an officer in the Coast Guard assigned to duty in occupied Japan, so one of Loretta’s most memorable adventures began. Loretta lived in Japan for almost six years during the U.S. occupation and loved every minute of it. The military command encouraged the officers to hire locals to provide jobs as part of the Japanese economy recovery, so during her time in Japan, Loretta became accustomed to maids, housekeepers, cooks, gardeners and other general help. Loretta attended the American School, but she interacted with the children of the local help. Loretta kept in touch with several of Japanese and school friends for years after returning to the US. She told stories of going into town with ‘cook’, which meant going off base to the open-air market to buy squid, eel, octopus, cow tongue and other delicacies to be prepared for the families’ dinner. She became used to earthquakes; she would sleep through them. Treats took so long to arrive from the states that she learned to like the texture and taste of stale marshmallows and butterfingers. That never changed and once she returned to the US, she would buy marshmallows and butterfingers and put them away until they were stale before she ate them. Loretta obtained one of her most prized possessions while in Japan: an antique Japanese statue doll that she had on display in her home the rest of her life. Upon return to the US, Gil formally adopted Loretta. Loretta attended Santa Ana High School, graduating in 1955. She met many lifelong friends in high school. One of those friends was Wendell Craig, the man she would marry Nov. 9, 1955, in Santa Ana. Loretta was working as a telephone switchboard operator and Wendell was away at basic training for the Air Force. They had agreed to save $500 each before they would marry. When he came home from basic training, they had both saved $250. Although they had not met their agreed upon savings amount, they decided that $250 X 2 met the $500 they had agreed upon and pulled off a wedding in less than a week. The military sent them to Amarillo, Texas, (Loretta thought as some kind of punishment) before heading to Maine for four years, where their first and best child was born. After discharge from military service in 1961, Wendell and Loretta were back in Santa Ana. Loretta reconnected with her HS friends (Toby, Joanne, Jacki to name a few) Sunny southern California brought their next two kids, with the third child made up of left-over parts of the first two. For air quality reasons, Loretta and Wendell decided to leave California in 1969. The first stop was Ft Smith Arkansas, where they lived for a year. From Southern California to Ft Smith was like stepping back in time 20 or more years, from a 24/7 life to rolling up sidewalks at 5pm. And while their children loved it, Loretta and Wendell struggled to adjust. So, they decided they would find a more ‘modern’ place to live. They spent several weekends in the spring of 1970 visiting various cities, (Little Rock, Shreveport, etc.) and decided, without visiting it that Dallas would be their next home. After the school year ended, with a loaded U-Haul truck, and their station wagon pulling a trailer, they left Arkansas heading for Dallas. When they got to Dallas, things were not as they expected. They drove around, bought a newspaper for rent prices and jobs. Loretta decided Dallas was too big and not the happy medium they were looking for, so they decided to head south on IH-35 to see what Waco had to offer. When they arrived in 1970 Waco, they decided it was too small so they headed south again to Austin. Arriving in Austin, they decided to give it chance. While living in a KOA camp, Loretta and Wendell did adult things like search for a home and jobs while their kids played in the swimming pool at the campground. They found what they were looking for and settled in Austin for two years. In the spring of 1972, Wendell had an opportunity to attend Oklahoma Tech University (now Oklahoma State University Institute of Technology) using his VA benefits so the family relocated to Okmulgee for two years while he earned his degree. Upon graduation, Loretta packed everyone and everything up and headed back to Austin. Loretta went to work at IRS and transferred into the Veteran’s Administration. She worked at the VA until her retirement in the mid 1990’s. In 1990, Loretta’s mother, still in California, became ill and was in need of assistance. Loretta took a 6 month leave of absence from the VA to assist her mother. Her reward was a genealogical goldmine. Her mother had boxes, drawers and crates of family pictures, documents, letters, personal memorabilia, maps and books dating from pre-civil war to the 1960’s that all had been passed down through the family. One land deed was from 1797. Loretta was already a certified genealogy addict, so this goldmine fed her addiction. (There was a bunch of cool stuff.) In a time when computers were not common in homes, and people over 60yo might not be inclined to learn how to use a newfangled thing for ‘fun’, Loretta worked with her tech savvy grandson to purchase, install and learn the basics of using a PC and the internet. She found distant cousins, shared the info in the treasure trove on her family, deciphered the handwriting in old letters (why does a ‘s’ look like a ‘f’?) and in general had a blast. She talked her daughter into joining the research, passing on her addiction and talked her tech savvy grandson into creating a genealogy website for her daughter to update. Loretta was a great artist who could draw, paint, sew and mold clay. She had several cabinets full of miniature vignettes of rooms using dollhouse furniture finds and her additions, made from all kinds of things. One item she liked was the plastic piece that holds the box top off the pizza. In her eyes it was a table. She loved making miniatures for dollhouses, and her miniature clay food was realistic. She had all kinds of pieces of small things that others might think were not worth bothering with that she collected and organized to use on her miniatures. Loretta’s retirement years were spent concentrating on her hobbies: collecting miniatures and hunting down ancestors until dementia made her favorite pastimes hard to do. Loretta loved chocolate, especially M&Ms. She only wanted the small bags because, like many of us, she had no will power to stop eating the cute little colorful candies. If she was given a large bag, she would eat some and then hide the rest, which in her later years turned in a scavenger hunt when she wanted to eat a few more. She loved hot breakfast tea in the morning and would sit, stirring and sipping a cup until it was cold. For her first purchase with her first paycheck as a telephone switchboard operator, Loretta bought a portable Singer sewing machine that she used the rest of her life. She was an excellent seamstress and made outfits for her daughter from the full skirts Loretta wore in the 50’s. A slimmed down skirt for Loretta and a dress with bloomers for her daughter meant they had matching outfits. Loretta would sketch out an outfit to be made for herself or her daughter, using the sleeves from one pattern, the skirt style from another, possibly the bodice of a third and then make it all work. Many times, she would redraw the design to include the patterns of the material purchased for the outfit, so those who didn’t have her vision could clearly see the intended outcome. Loretta continued to make clothes for her daughter even after her daughter married. Loretta made great dance and Halloween costumes for her children and grandchildren, some of those costumes won awards. She made special Christmas tree skirts with matching table clothes and stockings. She made custom pillows from needlepoint pieces. Loretta was happiest when she was busy and a project was coming together. Life’s adversities are not always of one’s making. Since the breakup of her parents’ marriage when she was very young, her father was not allowed to be a part of her life. When her mother passed in 1991, Loretta was finally able to locate her father’s name. Pre-internet, using the notary stamp on the adoption papers, Loretta tracked down members of her paternal family. Her father had already passed, but her uncle, aunt and otherwise unknown brothers and their families were still around and Loretta tracked them all down. She was thrilled to know she had a paternal family and was finally able to see who she resembled. Loretta had loved ones that preceded her in death: Wendell Craig, her husband of 63 years, her parents, Hazel Rettew, Gil Rettew and Mel Jaynes, her brother Haven Rettew, her brothers Chris and Wilton Jaynes. She is survived by her children Karen, Kendell and Kenneth, their spouses, Randal and Holly, her brother David Jaynes, her sister-in-law Jacki Russick, her grandchildren Alex, Nick, Matthew, Lindsey, Josh, Jordan, Kasey, Kassandra, Lily and Elijah and her great grandchildren Cash, Alba, Freya, Cosmo, Bethany, Isaac, Esther, Morgan, Theo, Julian, Oscar, Sterling, Simone, Santiago, Emery and Rose. Along with numerous nieces and nephews. Loretta was beautiful inside and out. She was a devoted daughter, wife, mother, grandmother and genealogist. The next time you eat some M&Ms think of her and smile. Doesn’t matter if it is a small bag, a large bag, or a bag you had to find after you hid it from yourself. Visitation and Ceremony are private to immediate family only.
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Loretta Craig

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Loretta Craig

1937 - 2024

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