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Craig Stanke

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Craig Stanke Obituary
Stanke, Craig, 56, died unexpectedly, in his sleep, on Tuesday, May 29, 2012 as the result of previously undiagnosed heart disease. Born Craig Alan Weiss on September 23, 1955 in Emporia, KS to Ann (Calhoun) Weiss and Donn Weiss, Craig and his mother returned to her birthplace of Madison, WI following his parents' divorce. In 1961, his mother married Ernest Stanke, who adopted Craig and became his dad. Craig's talent in writing was evident from a very early age, as was his prowess in music and track and field. He dabbled in the violin and the piano, then taught himself to play the banjo before forming the Southwest Madison Bluegrass Revival Band with friends. In 1973, Craig graduated from Madison West High School. While at West, he joined the track team, specialized in running shorter distances - specifically the mile - and broke an impressive number of state records. Two years ago, he returned to the sport and ran many races - usually 5Ks and recently, a half marathon. Typically, he finished at the top of his age group and placed impressively overall. He attended college at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, graduating in 1977 with a B.S. in Journalism, worked part-time at the Wisconsin State Journal during college and became the staff writer/sports editor at the Beloit Daily News after graduation. It was here, in 1979, that Craig was awarded first place for columns in the category of newspapers with a circulation less than 50,000 from the Associated Press Sports Editors association. These were the days when putting a newspaper together involved a typewriter, a T-square, an X-Acto knife and a sheet of Rubylith. Then technology arrived and the face of publishing changed. Craig Stanke's brilliance as a journalist was evident in his ability to change with his industry, combining old school rules and values with new world technology and the latest, greatest example of social media he could find. And always, he made sure integrity was at the forefront. Not long ago, Craig established a Twitter account, which quickly grew to have 1300 followers. His tweets ranged from inane (the "REALTIME SONG STUCK in MY HEAD") to brilliant (sharing the inner workings of a CBSSports.com content meeting, thereby bringing readers directly to the place decisions were made regarding copy and who was covering what topic). He wondered constantly how he could do a given job better and then did just that. His titles of assistant sports editor, staff writer, news editor, copy editor and sports editor graced the pages of newspapers including the Bradenton Herald, Clearwater Sun, Jupiter Daily Journal, Fort Lauderdale News, Miami Herald, South Florida Sun Sentinel and the Florida Times Union. In 1987, he was hired at the Los Angeles Times and worked for eight years as the assistant sports editor and sports editor of their San Diego and Orange County editions before moving on to the Palm Beach Post as assistant sports editor. In 1997, he found the job he intended to retire from when he assumed the role of Deputy Managing Editor of CBSSports.com. Throughout his career, Craig mentored hundreds of journalists and it is only now, while reading the countless tributes posted by people who knew Craig, that one begins to realize the impact this man made to so many. The same words and phrases are repeated: genius, brilliant, kind, generous, reasonable, funny, patient and "best boss I ever had." Craig was also the stranger at the other end of the bar who would listen to your story with concern and curiosity; the friend's father who asked how the interview went and cared about the answer and the pal who knew things weren't going as well for you as they could have so delivered a pep talk and then made you laugh. Craig's sense of humor is legendary as are the turns of phrases he used often. Anyone who knew Craig well knows what word follows, "sweet" and "holy." Craig had thousands of friends from all circles of life but he always had room for one more. There was never a role more important, however, than the one he assumed when Alyson Kathryn Stanke and Eric Robert Ernest Stanke were born and he became a father. Craig's two children were the loves of his life. Recently, he had been delighted and proud to see them both excel in their chosen careers and spending time with them - golf with Eric on the weekend and dinner on Tuesdays with Alyson - was a priority. Craig was also a devoted son to his mother, the late Ann Stanke, who taught Craig much about life, love, generosity and the importance of laughter - during the good times but especially during the tough times. Ann, who lost her own battle with ALS just a year ago, was extraordinarily proud of her son. Craig was also the best brother any sister could wish to have. Craig loved the UW Badgers and Bucky, old black and white movies, a great meal, a race well run and even the race he was winning until he forgot where the finish line was and just kept running. He loved the simpler things in life, which are often the very best life has to offer, and he held close all the people he shared special moments with throughout the years.Recently, Craig was especially happy…a contented man.

He was seemingly in great shape, he was running, work was challenging and fun, his kids were doing well and he had someone special to share it with.The day before he died may have been just about perfect. Craig started his day with a 5K in Boca Raton and finished second in his age group before going to the job he loved. When he got off work, he drove to his girlfriend Amy's home, as he did every Monday night, and they went to a favorite restaurant, cracking up during dinner after Amy did a spot on imitation of him. When they got home, Craig put on the American Movie Channel, as he did most nights, and settled in to watch "Bridge Over the River Kwai" one more time. Amy decided to go to bed and when she glanced back to say goodnight, Craig was watching his movie with her dog on his lap. Later that evening, he decided it was time to go to bed…


Craig is survived by his children, Alyson Kathryn and Eric Robert Ernest and their mother, Ellen Rosener Stanke, all in Coral Springs, FL; by his sister, Kristin "Krissy" Erickson (Michael Baek) and his nephews, Sean Michael and Brady Ernest, all in McFarland, WI; by his girlfriend, Amy Eisenstadt; by his step-brother, John Stanke, his niece, Jenna, his step-sister, Sarah (MaryEllen) Stanke, his niece, Erica, his cousins, Jim, Jeff, Joel and Jay Nania, their families and the family of John Nania, who preceded him in death. He was also preceded in death by his parents, Ann and Ernest Stanke; by his birthfather, Donn Weiss and by his aunt and uncle, Virginia Nania and Gene Calhoun. The family requests that no flowers be sent. A celebration of Craig's life will take place on Saturday, June 9 at Runyon's Restaurant, 9810 West Sample Rd., Coral Springs, FL from 1-5 p.m. Journalism scholarships in Craig's name will be established in two locations: the University of Wisconsin-Madison Journalism School, 5115 Vilas Hall, 821 University Ave., Madison, WI 53706 and J.P. Taravella High School, 10600 Riverside Drive, Coral Springs, FL 33071; please note contributions to either location are for the Craig Stanke Scholarship Fund. Other memorials or notes of condolence may be sent to: Alyson and Eric Stanke, 160 NW 118th Drive, Coral Springs, FL 33071.
Published in Sun-Sentinel from June 5 to June 7, 2012
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