An Adventure in Rural Living
Discombobulated:  Saying Goodbye to Dad

Discombobulated: Saying Goodbye to Dad

Daniel Alan Craig, age 77

Daniel Alan Craig
12.12.46 – 04.13.24

We’re all pretty discombobulated.  My dad, also known as Grandpa, Papa, Beepaw, and Uncle Dan, passed away suddenly and unexpectedly of a heart attack last Saturday, April 13, 2024.

He was doing what he loved with people he loved.  He was helping one of his grandsons build an outhouse on his property in northern Wisconsin.  His grandson, Justin Kish, is a first responder and had an ambulance there before he was even having chest pains.  He was transported to a local hospital and then airlifted by helicopter to a hospital with a cardiac unit where he died, to the shock of us all.  The whole time he was complaining that “getting old sucks” and kept telling Justin not to worry about him and to go back and finish the project they were working on.

He and my mom, Lori Craig, were long-time residents of Southern California who relocated to Wisconsin in 2020 to be near their grandchildren and great grandchildren.

With their great grandchildren.  This is why they moved to Wisconsin.

They had two sleepovers with their great grandchildren, Harrison (5) and Ellie (3), the week before he died.  He was digging a big, muddy hole with his grandson, Justin, and his great-grandson, Jackson (3), the day he died.  He wouldn’t have had it any other way.  He lived his last week like every other week of his life, doing what he loved with the people he loved most.  He was happiest when he was helping someone with a project and even happier if that project was outside with his kids, grandkids, and great grandkids.  He had plans to help his son, Jason, install new floors in my aunt Becky’s house this week.  He’d be happy to know that Jason and Justin are taking care of that.

My dad was enjoying a long, active retirement after a career in service for Volkswagen of America.  He remained a VW enthusiast and was worried, that when he died, my mom would only be able to lease two Volkswagens instead of four.  (They haven’t had more than one car since he retired, so we’re pretty sure she’ll be okay on that front.) He was a Vietnam Veteran who served in the United States Navy and taught me and my brother to make our beds, be on time, and do the right thing.

Sporting his camera, video camera, and GoPro.

He was an avid computer and photography enthusiast.  You can see that being both a geek and a dork runs in the family, so does finding yourself accidentally in charge of things (I normally get blamed for this trait, but I learned it from my dad).   My dad spent many years as the President of the Apple Valley Computer Club where he taught his retired friends and neighbors how to use their computers, edit their photos, and make videos about their vacations.  He also became somewhat of an expert at making memorial videos and made those for all of his friends and family who lost loved ones, including beloved pets.  He even made his own “I’m Gone” video so that none of us had to figure that out.  He left it on a flash drive with all of the things he knew we’d need (his trust, insurance information, passwords to everything, pictures, etc.).  The flash drive has both a USB and a USB-C plug in so that we can all access it easily and without adapters.  He kept this flash drive in his pocket so that he and we would always know where it was.  Being prepared and thinking ahead is also something he ingrained in us all.

He and my mom enjoyed long road trips and have visited all the National Parks in the United States where he would take pictures of wildlife and waterfalls and put his memories to his favorite music in a video to share with family and friends.  He spent many years as the youngest guy in his motorcycle club in Apple Valley where they regularly took long rides to remote locations just to get lunch.

Dad’s the one on the far right.

He will be terribly missed by my mom and me and my brother, Jason Schelb.  He has left his grandchildren and great grandchildren wonderful memories of fishing, building forts, learning how to fix things, and always being willing to help anyone with anything.  He had the joy of being close with his grandchildren, Nathan Kish, Justin Kish, Andrew Kish, Dylan Kish, and Jaylee Schelb.  He was the favorite uncle to a whole bunch of nieces, nephews, and great nieces and nephews.  His great-grandchildren, Harrison Kish, Ellie Kish, and Jackson Kish, were all crazy about him and loved having sleepovers, being picked up from school, and getting big hugs from their BeePaw.

Teaching Jessica (one of his nieces) how to fish. 

Thank you to all of our friends and family who have reached out to comfort us at this time and to share stories of my dad (these are mostly stories of how my dad has helped you).  We feel surrounded by love and support.  We have received so many lovely flower arrangements my dad would say “it looks like someone died around here.”  CultureSync is buying us a memorial tree to plant in my dad’s honor.  I’m going to ask the boys to dig one last hole for grandpa.

We will be celebrating my dad’s life and spreading his ashes at our house on Bass Lake in Stoughton, Wisconsin on Saturday, July 6, 2024.  We will be remembering him with his favorite things: family, fishing, cheeseburgers, hot dogs, and a bonfire with his grandchildren and great grandchildren. Come throw a pole in the water and catch some of his favorite fish.  He won’t be here to help you, but he’s taught enough people to fish around here that someone will be able to.

11 comments found

  1. I am so sorry for your loss Carrie. May God bless you all and bring you comfort and healing as you remember your special dad, grandpa, and great-grandpa. Sending you a loving hug xo.

  2. What lovely thoughts Carrie. That was a truly beautiful and moving tribute to your Dad.

    Dan was such a special and unique man. One of the last times I saw him, he had put together a slide show of family pictures that my Mom was in, recently after she passed. I normally wouldn’t ask, being an introvert, but his slide show was so moving I asked if I could get a copy. I thought he might forget or do it when he got home the following week. Nope! Before I could blink he disappeared. He appeared later in about an hour with USB thumb drives not just for me, but for everyone in the family, already loaded w/ the slideshow. They weren’t cheap thumb drives either (I’m a fellow dork so I knew). He was such a selfless man. What an example he was to all of us and especially his kids, grandkids and great-grandkids. He will be missed.

  3. Carrie – I am so sorry for your loss. This is a beautiful tribute to a very special person. That prepared USB story was astounding and a symbol of the love and care he had for your family. Wishing you continued love and support, as well as rest and healing. Love to you and your family.

  4. There are no words to express my sadness. Dan was one of a kind. I met Dan and Lori through my husband, John, they had been friends for a very long time. Dan was always there to help, whatever the project, and there were many! But that was Dan. He would light up talking about his grandkids. I will always be thankful for his kindness and thoughtfulness. He was always there after the passing of John in fact he made the memorial video. I could go on and on but I’ll just say, Dan thank you for the memories.

  5. Carrie…such a wonderful account of who Dan was and what he meant to all of us. I could not have asked for a better Brother and close friend, He is in my heart now and forever 💕

  6. Carrie, I’m so sorry for your loss. What a beautiful, personal and moving tribute to your dad, and how wonderful that he enjoyed his last week with the people he loved doing what he loved. May his memory be a blessing to you all.

  7. What a beautiful tribute to your dad. I have many memories of him through our years with VW. Curt and I enjoyed time with Dan and Lori throughout those years. Lori, my heart hurts for you and I will keep you in prayer as you navigate your life without your love.

  8. I was in the automotive business and new Dan in the early 80’s. I loved talking with him as he was so informative and taught us alot, but mostly impressed by Dan expressing to be thorough, but most of all to be fair. Later in the mid 90’s he called on me when I was a service manager and kept on teaching from his vast knowledge and again setting an example on how to be and to always be fair. He put in a goid word for me when I applied at VW and I believe he was responsible for me getting the job. During my orientation I would work with Dan at his house in Santa Clarita for my first 2 weeks. I remember how proud and excited he was when Nathan was born. I think my life was made better because of Dan. My prayers are with all of you and I know you all have great memories of Dan and he will live on as a part of all of us. Lori I am so sorry and all of the family is grieving and that will continue, but you all have great memories that will make you smile and be so proud that he was a big part of your lives. God Bless you all

  9. Carrie and family, I am sorry for your loss and wish the good God give you all strength and faith needed to go thru this.
    I am positive though he is in very good hands receiving all love from family, friends and the whole spirituality.

  10. Goodbye my friend, I worked with Dan over 20 years, after he retired he can back to help me while another friend was dying. VW was more than a job to some of us, it was our other family. I spent sometime with Dan behind the wheel, talking about both families. He really loved his main family and always talked about them. I will miss his Christmas cards. i will miss Dan! Praying for his family and thanking them for sharing Dan with me.

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