I’ve been brainstorming for a while now about who my first interview should be. I really didn’t have a certain person in mind and have just been keeping my eyes and ears open to see who may pop up.
At the Citizens University I met a nice man named Ernie McCraw. My husband David and I had a conversation with him after one of our classes a few weeks ago and I knew then he was the one! I absolutely love his energy. He has a great smile, is very kind and soft spoken, and loves his wife and children. When he speaks of them you can actually feel the pride.
Mr. McCraw has lived a fascinating life. He was born to Canadian parents, the baby of fifteen children (same parents and no double births!). His mother was raised in a Catholic orphanage in Canada and the family attended daily mass until her passing. He has Canadian and American brothers and sisters and some that even have dual citizenship. His father, who passed away when Ernie was a baby, was a miner, which is what brought the family to Northern Michigan.
Ernie’s beautiful wife of over forty years, Barbara, is a Master Quilter. Connie Clements wrote an article about her last August. Having been married to someone with such a gift, Ernie is now quite the quilter himself.
When asked about some of the fun places he has traveled to, Mr. McCraw says Africa is at the top of the list. He and Barbara have traveled there twice, both trips being for several weeks long. Mrs. McCraw has had one of her quilts in a Nelson Mandela exhibit. While on one of the trips, they even met some of Mr. Mandela’s grandchildren. They’ve done work in women’s and handicap shelters in Africa, while also teaching how to make things such as clothing, bags, etc.
Ernie is most proud of being able to give back to communities throughout the years. Some of his work has been donating to women’s shelters through Sally Beauty Supply, a company he worked at in Denton, Texas at their corporate headquarters for many years. He also did several things with United Way of Denton County, one being to help provide health care for those with low-income. Barbara was a medical technologist years ago, where Ernie would go along with her on some jobs and ended up being trained where they both did work with testing people for AIDSin the early 90s.
One of the interesting things he’s done in his life is run marathons for nearly twenty years. He completed 18 marathons in cities from Chicago, New York, Dallas and Austin. It was a sport he felt he could compete in and he’s very proud to say he finished each one he entered and never dropped out no matter how long it took him.
When asked why they moved to Navasota out of all places they could have chosen - he said that he likes the size and demographics of our little city. We have a mixture of people and since he and Barbara are an interracial couple, living in a racially mixed community was important to them.
Mr. and Mrs. McCraw have two sons that have done very well for themselves. Their oldest son Ken, who also lives in Navasota, is a professor at the Bush School at Texas A&M University. Their youngest son Joseph is a former Marine and diesel mechanic.
His favorite place in town is our Navasota Public Library, where you can often find him and Barbara. When asked what his favorite Navasota restaurant is he said that they don’t go out to eat often. Years ago, he took a yearlong cooking class and now cooks at home. Lucky for Mrs. McCraw, Ernie also does the grocery shopping!
His heroes are James Baldwin and Nelson Mandela - who both persevered and had a high level of integrity. His bucket list includes visiting Africa again and he dreams about traveling and meeting new people. When asked of his regrets so far in life - he said he has none. To me, that’s proof of living a successful life you want!
I appreciate him agreeing to be my first interview. He was a bit hesitant at first telling me there were surely others who were more interesting. But I disagree. We all have a story to tell, and one is not more important than the other.
Mr. Ernie McCraw - I am so glad you are my Navasota Neighbor!
*To see some of their quilt work, check out their website at www.quiltasart. com The column represents the thoughts and opinions of Jennifer Ramirez. Opinion columns are NOT the opinion of the Navasota Examiner.
Jennifer is a lifelong resident of Navasota. She is passionate about her community and supports all things local.