William Robert Craig

July 25, 1939 - February 6, 2014

Born in Elkton, MD, Bill grew up in Aberdeen, MD and at age 17, joined the US Marine Corp where he proudly served his country abroad in Okinawa, Japan. The discipline and work ethic that is synonymous with military life was also the bedrock of Bill's work credo. He was a 'self-made' man that started out in life with precious little. He was hardworking , dedicated and determined to make a better life for himself. His odyssey began with "Chilly Willy's", a fleet of ice am vending trucks. His business acumen branched out from there in the form of a taxi cab company, convenience store, and Craig Liquors to name a few. The next natural progression was a successful hand in commercial and residential real estate development concluding with the residential project in Harford County, MD known as Pegasus Estates. Striking out in a different direction, Bill built and owned Wet Willy's Crab Deck and Coconut Joe's Restaurant with his son and partner Shawn. Both of these venues enjoyed much popularity and success along the 95 corridor with regular customers that came from as far away as New Jersey to enjoy the food and entertainment.

Throughout his entire life, beginning with his first horse at age 8, Bill had a love affair with horses. He became a licensed Thoroughbred owner and trainer in MD, DE, PA, NY and CA, training his horses at Fair Hill Training Center in Elkton, MD. His joy came from the quiet moments before dawn, getting both horse and exercise rider ready to work, waiting for the sunrise so he could be the first one on the track. Similarly, he garnered peace and a bonding with nature in the many pre-dawn hours spent hunting water fowl.

He maintained this passion for horses and the outdoors when in the next chapter of his life, Bill and his wife Roswitha moved to California in 1996. They settled in the Santa Ynez Valley as Vice President of Westgate Financial and subsequently created and built award winning Shoestring Winery that (not coincidentally) boasts a race horse as part of its logo.  Bill thoroughly enjoyed the western lifestyle. His membership in the Rancheros Visitadores and more specifically, Los Vaqueros camp was a source of much happiness for him as were the close and lasting frienhips he made in the Valley. Those that knew Bill, knew that the three loves of his life were his wife Roswitha, his black Labrador Buddy and his Border Collie Scooter.

Bill is preceded in death by his sister Ginny Haggett of Saratoga, CA. He is survived by his wife Roswitha and son, Patrick Shawn Craig as well as his grandchildren Patrick C. and Cecilia N. Craig. Bill lost a very courageous 2 1/2 year battle with cancer, the only battle he ever lost. He will be deeply missed by family and friends alike.

In lieu of flowers, please make a donation to Wounded Warriors.

A service will be held at the Santa Ynez Mission on Wednesday, April 16th @ 11:00 am followed by a celebration of his life at Shoestring Winery.

Loper Funeral Chapel, Directors


Published in The Santa Barbara News-Press Online Edition from Feb. 14 to Feb. 18, 2014