Lois Marie Craig

Lois Marie Craig, Creator and Director of The Crim Road race, was born on February 4, 1929 in Flint, Michigan. Lois died on Sunday, April 7, 2024, age 95 in Burton, Michigan. Survived by three sons, Scott, Mark, and Chris, plus three grandchildren and three great grandchildren. Memorial Service to be held Saturday April 20 at 2:30PM at the UAW Local 598, 3293 Van Slyke Rd., Flint, Michigan. 48507.

Lois Craig defied limits placed on women.  She was a strong, feisty woman, with a big heart, much loved by family and the many who knew her.  She was born as the nation plunged into the Great Depression.  She experienced hunger and hardship but emerged with a strong sense of social justice and a desire to make a difference.  She learned about the labor movement as her father Herb Perry joined the Flint Sit Down in 1937.  Her mother Helen took eight-year-old Lois to the top of the valley overlooking Chevy 4.  She pointed to the National Guardsmen with their mounted machine guns and told Lois, “Look, these are the men who want to shoot your father.” 

As a teen in Flint Central she excelled in every subject and was offered a free ride to U of M.  This she declined and opted to help her brother Jack study engineering.  In her 50’s she showed up at U of M Flint and told them that she was ready for her scholarship now.  The confused History Chair scrambled to find any record of her scholarship and finally created one for her. She graduated with a 4.0 majoring in history. 

Young Lois was a tomboy.  She liked climbing trees, fighting when necessary, and driving fast cars.  With the help of Herb and Jack she built a 1950 Ford flathead into a beast of a car.  She raced for money on country roads at 2AM with Jack challenging racers, “I bet even my little sister can beat you.” Later she raced ovals and dragstrips in the Midwest, registering as L. Perry, so they wouldn’t realize she was a woman until she showed up.

At age 20 Lois married Robert Craig.  They remained together for 26 years, created a family, and formed a team in the labor and civil rights movements, and in politics. Bob served as UAW President of the small local for the GM owned Buick dealership. Lois helped win two long strikes when GM tried to break the union.  She organized support from the big UAW locals and brought pressure to bear on the company.  Lois and her kids walked the picket line daily.

In 1964 Lois and Bob helped found HOME Incorporated.  This Flint based civil rights organization challenged housing discrimination by realtors, banks, and insurance companies. One tactic they used was to have a white family buy a house and then immediately sell it to a Black family that wanted to live in the neighborhood. Lois showed her courage when she walked with her three children through a white mob that had surrounded a house near Freeman Elementary.  They had broken out the windows and painted N….r on the garage.  Lois walked through the mob and paid a visit to the Childress family to welcome them into the neighborhood.  Later, she worked to get the nation’s first Anti-discrimination law passed in Flint.

Lois Craig was a lifelong Democrat, but politics was a man’s world.  The defiant Lois ignored the norms. She served as campaign manager to elect Bobby Crim to the State House in 1964.  She tried twice to get her husband elected in majority Republican districts, once losing by three votes. She pioneered voter identification and voter registration tactics now commonly used in elections. In the late 60’s she organized the Genesee County Democratic Women’s Auxiliary when party leadership positions were denied to women.  The Auxiliary ballooned to over 1,000 women, outpacing the male county organization and outraised funds for candidates.

Eventually Lois became the Executive Assistant to the Speaker of the House in Lansing, the same Bobby Crim that she helped elect.  She traveled the state, authored laws, and represented the Speaker as the first woman to hold such a prestigious position.

One Day in 1976 Bobby Crim told Lois that he would like to organize a race for runners to raise some money for Special Olympic.  He gave Lois a couple months to organize what would become known as The Crim. Lois knew nothing about running, but within five years she created an event with over 10,000 participants and world class runners. Amazingly, Lois was the only paid employee.  She always had a knack for recruiting volunteers and convincing people to help for a good cause. The Crim became Lois’ passion for the next 40 years.  Under her leadership the race became one of the top running events in the world.  And Lois continued to raise millions for the Area 13 Special Olympics.  When she stepped down as Race Director, Lois continued to work part-time raising money for Special Olympics. She finally retired at age 85.

Lois Craig touched the lives of 1,000’s of people.  She led a life that truly made this world a better place.  She will be remembered and mourned by many.  Please join us for a memorial for Lois Craig on Saturday April 20 at 2:30PM at the UAW Local 598, 3293 Van Slyke Rd., Flint, MI 48507.

Donations to Area 13 Special Olympics in Memory of Lois would be appreciated.

Special Olympics Area 13

10475 McWain Rd.

Grand Blanc, MI 48439


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1 Condolences

  1. Marie McDonald Williams on May 4, 2024 at 6:34 pm

    You have touched many hearts through your time on this earth. Your wisdom and guidance have seen me through some very trying times. Go and rest now

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