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Summit Old Timer

Summit Daily/Brad OdekirkKeystone resident Bob Craig turned 80 in September and a hundred and fifty friends and relatives celebrated with him at the Keystone Science School.

Three Saturdays ago, 150 folks showed up at the Keystone Science School to celebrate Bob Craig’s 80th birthday. Like everything else Craig has been involved in, it was done with class and style.He is an impressive man, who has lived a fascinating life.Most of us who know Craig in Summit County know him for having established the Keystone Center – a nonprofit that tries to solve environmental issues among individuals, communities, industry and the government before they get tied up in court. The Keystone Center opened its doors in 1975 and has been recognized nationally and internationally for its steadfast work mediating environmental law between conflicting entities.But that is only one feather in Craig’s cap.Born Sept. 24, 1924, in Long Beach, Calif., Craig is the son of a Navy man, and he moved often with the family – Panama City, Seattle “and China after that.”

It was in Seattle that Craig discovered his love for the mountains and mountaineering. In 1936, he began climbing in the Olympic and Cascade mountains as a Boy Scout. Some five decades later, he looks back on expeditions that took him all over the world: Kate’s Needle and Devil’s Thumb in southeastern Alaska in 1946; Mount McKinley in 1947; K2 in 1953; the Soviet Pamirs in 1974; and Mount Everest in 1983.”I stood on a few mountain tops in my life,” said Craig Tuesday afternoon at his Keystone home. “But failed on a lot, too. That’s the challenge.”In the early 1980s, Craig became president of the American Alpine Club and launched a successful membership campaign.He is listed in Who’s Who in America and Who’s Who in the West. His 1979 book, “Storm and Sorrow,” which chronicled his 1974 expedition to the Soviet Pamirs was made into a television docudrama. He also co-authored a book published in 1954 about his K2 expedition called, “K2, The Savage Mountain.”While accomplishing many mountaineering feats, Craig was also putting together an impressive “employment” portfolio.

During World War II, he served in the western Pacific as an officer in the United States Navy, participating in four amphibious operations.After graduating from the University of Washington, he became a teaching fellow at Columbia University in 1949.During the Korean War, he was a civilian consultant for the Department of the Army at the Mountain and Cold Weather Training Command at Camp Carson (now Fort Carson).In the early 1950s, Craig moved to Aspen and joined Walter Paepcke as executive director and chief operating officer of the Aspen Institute, also founding the Aspen Center of Physics.In 1963, he left the institute and bought a 1,200-acre cattle ranch outside of Aspen and ran 350 head of calves and cows. His children still run the ranch, and it is in a trust to them. He had three children with his first wife: Michael, Jennifer and Kathleen.After leaving the ranching business (“It was hard work, but very gratifying”), he was a principal in two planning and industrial design consulting firms.

During the course of his life, he has met Presidents Truman, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Ford and George H. W. Bush. He met Clinton when the former President was the governor of Arkansas. He worked for Jack and Bobby Kennedy during the 1960 presidential campaign and belongs to the same men’s club as the first President Bush.Though Craig retired from the Keystone Center in 1996, he still keeps his finger on its pulse.Last year he logged 96 days skiing, and in the summer enjoys fly-fishing.After an 18-year courtship, he married his second wife, Terry, five years ago. She co-owns and operates Hibberd McGrath art gallery in Breckenridge.Of his full life of mountaineering and business ventures, Craig was asked what sticks out as his biggest accomplishment? “Nothing in particular, just very lucky. More lucky than gifted,” he said. “I am very proud of my children though.”