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Late WVU alum’s wife establishes $60K namesake scholarship at College of Law

WVU College of Law

A $60,000 gift to the West Virginia University College of Law aims to support the next generation of legal professionals through scholarship.

Alice Craig established the William Rankin Craig Memorial Scholarship in honor of her late husband, who passed away April 11, 2018. The scholarship provides financial support for students in the College of Law, as determined by the WVU Office of Financial Aid.

“The College of Law has a long-standing commitment to students with diverse backgrounds and abilities,” Amelia Smith Rinehart, William J. Maier, Jr. Dean and professor of law, said. “We are so grateful and honored that Bill’s family has chosen to celebrate his life as a well-respected lawyer and community member in West Virginia by making legal education more affordable for students who will continue that legacy.”

Morgantown native William “Bill” Craig parted ways with his hometown at an early age for a better education. He attended boarding schools out of state and eventually received his undergraduate degree at Middlebury College in Burlington, Vermont.

His college experience was different from most because he was blind. Bill was born with retrolental fibroplasia, an eye disease that occurs in premature infants and is caused by abnormal development of blood vessels in the retina. However, that did not stop Bill from pursuing his dreams.

Despite having good grades, most law schools did not accept Bill because of his visual impairment. However, WVU Law did. Getting accepted at the University is what brought Bill back to his hometown. He graduated in 1980 with his law degree.

“Even though he was blind, he could do just about anything he put his mind to, except drive,” Alice Craig said. “He was so smart. Bill even learned how to folk dance and how to give his mother her medications.”

After graduation, Bill worked at home primarily as a support for other attorneys who would be overloaded with casework. Alice became a paralegal to assist Craig in his work.

Bill met his wife at a lesson for the bridge card game in Charleston, North Carolina, where the two were partners. Alice invited him on a church beach trip during which the two became close, and they eventually got married.

While Alice never received funding for her education, she recognized the importance of relieving the financial burden for others. As Alice thought about ways to give back, she felt it was right to donate as a tribute to her late husband and to his alma mater.

“I wanted to memorialize Bill. This scholarship is a way of remembering my husband and helping the school,” Alice said. “Him having been a student at WVU’s law school, I wanted to offer any deserving student a scholarship.”

The couple liked spending their time together going on walks and attending concerts.
Bill also enjoyed reading books, working with electronics, wiring, computers, playing the fretless bass guitar, the ocean and Samoyed dogs.

Craig’s gift was made through the WVU Foundation, the nonprofit organization that receives and administers private donations on behalf of the University.

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