Robert Anderson Craighead, 97, of Salem, Va., passed away on February 9, 2024.
He was born on December 18, 1926, in Hyattsville, Md., a son of the late William M. and Jean C. Craighead.
In addition to his parents, he was preceded in death by two brothers, William M. Craighead, Jr and James L. Craighead; and by his loving wife, Janet Terry Akers Craighead.
Bob and Janet met on a blind date, were soon married, and spent a wonderful fifty-seven years together raising their family, being active in the community, their church and with friends, and were most proud that all of their children received college degrees.
Surviving family members include five children and their spouses / partners, Russell Craighead and Cynthia Miller, Anne Craighead, Steve and Beth Craighead, Nancy Craighead and Janet Ardam, Tim and Debra Craighead; and an adoptive daughter, Amanda Allen. Mr. Craighead is further survived by nine grandchildren; and sixteen great-grandchildren.
Graduating from Andrew Lewis High School at age sixteen, Mr. Craighead began his 44-year railroad career in September, 1943, as a messenger in the N&W’s Blacksmith Shop.
At seventeen he volunteered for the U.S. Marine Corps, where he served as a rifleman with the Fourth Marine Division and was wounded in the battle for Iwo Jima, for which he received the Purple Heart.
Returning to the railroad after WWII he completed a four-year apprenticeship, and studied courses in both engineering and business. In 1954, he moved to the Industrial Development Department, and retired in 1987 as Regional Manager. During his 33 years in plant location work he played a key role in locating a number of important industries on the N&W, its successor Norfolk Southern and certain subsidiary lines. In Salem these included the Mohawk Rubber plant, General Electric, the Koppers plant, Blue Ridge Beverage facilities, and the Kroger Distribution Warehouse. Others included Goodyear Tire in Danville, Jos. Schlitz and CPC International at Winston-Salem, Alcoa in Portsmouth and Halstead Industries in Pine Hall.
His community activities included serving as the President of the Salem/Roanoke County Chamber of Commerce, Chairman of the Salem Industrial Development Authority, Chairman of the Economic Development Committee of the Virginia State Chamber of Commerce, and he was a member of the Regional Partnership of the Roanoke Valley.
While serving as a director and Vice President of the Salem Educational Foundation and Alumni Association he established the Craighead Family Endowment to provide scholarships for graduates of Salem High School, and he is an inductee into that organizations Hall of Fame.
In his younger years he was active in the First United Methodist Church in Salem, where he served on various committees, and as a Scoutmaster following WWII.
In retirement he wrote and published a book titled “Jackson’s Legacy”.
The family will receive friends at the John M. Oakey & Son Chapel on Thursday, March 14, 2024, from 6 to 8 p.m. A private graveside service will be held the following day.
Memorials may be made in his honor to a favorite charity, or to organizations offering care and seeking a cure for those with Alzheimer’s Disease or dementia.
The family would like to thank Good Samaritan Hospice for their assistance with care during his final days, and to Kaylie Milliner for her care and devotion to Bob as a long term caregiver.
Online condolences may be expressed at www.johnmoakey.com.