Bettie Craig


Born Bettie Ernestine Long on January 14, 1925, to homesteaders Hunter and Virginia Long in Magdalena, N.M., she was one of two sisters raised on cattle ranches in rural New Mexico and later attended school in Bingham, N.M. She met and married her first husband PVT. Thomas L. Houston, who was attending the N.M. School of Mines in Socorro, N.M., as part of a US Army training program, but sadly was widowed in January 1945 after giving birth to her only child, Margaret Ann Houston, in October 1944.

After relocating to Silver City, N.M., and working as a switchboard operator and dental assistant, Bettie met and married the love of her life, Ralph Eugene Craig. “Coach” Craig, as he was affectionately known, was not only a local legend for his athleticism, having competed in football, basketball, and track at Lordsburg High School and Western New Mexico University (then N.M. State Teachers’ College), but also a decorated war veteran from the Korean conflict. Serving his country as a 2nd Lieutenant and artillery forward observer, coach Craig was wounded from enemy mortar fire, for which he received a Purple Heart.

Following the war, the couple married and moved to West Covina, Calif., where Coach Craig continued his success coaching football, first at West Covina HS and then at Mt. San Antonio College (Mt. SAC). The couple flourished with the local coaching fraternity, their wives and families, creating life-long friendships. Backyard BBQs, cold beers, and embellishments among friends were common until the passing of Coach Craig in 1988.

Bettie spent the next 30 plus years dedicated to her church, the Holy Trinity Episcopal Church of Covina, Calif., as well as to her community. She volunteered at the local hospice for over 20 consecutive years. Bettie was a bibliophile with an avid interest in both fiction and non-fiction, with many themes bringing her back to her N.M. roots. She loved to follow sports and always critiqued coaches for their dress, physique and character. She was a fan of Kobe Bryant and “Dancing with the Stars.” She loved interior design, travel, and N.M. cuisine. She had a great distaste for cats, scammers, and Donald Trump. She reviled the January 6th insurrection and those that enabled it.

She was preceded in death by her first husband PVT. Thomas L. Houston (Co. C, 66th Batt., 12th Armored Div., died Jan 16, 1945, Steinwald Forest, Gambsheim, France), second husband Coach Ralph E. Craig (5th RCT, 555 “Triple Nickle” Field Artillery Batt., wounded June 12, 1953, Outpost Harry, North Korea), and daughter Margo Viers.

She is survived by her sister, Lou Brooke of Tyrone, N.M.; nephews, Tom Brooke of Albuquerque, N.M., and Craig Brooke of Los Osos, Calif.; grandchildren, Pam Jones of Rogers, Arkan., and Josh Viers of Merced, Calif.; and great-grandchildren, Carson and Everett Viers.

A service will be held January 14, 2022, at Holy Trinity Episcopal Church at 11 a.m. All are welcome. Her remains will be placed next to Coach Craig at the Riverside National Cemetery. Donations can be made to WNMU Athletics or Mt. SAC Athletics.