Submitted by his wife
Craig was born on a rainy afternoon‚ December 9‚ 1965‚ to Roger and Mary Louise LaBare. The family made their home in Walnut Creek‚ California‚ where Craig’s inquisitive nature was apparent from the start. His nickname Sparkler captured his cheerful‚ outgoing nature. At the age of three‚ he joyfully appeared in the house with garter snake in hand. Mary Lou quelled her own fear‚ and encouraged Craig’s love of nature by showing him the benefit of the catch and release program.
The family moved to Fullerton when Craig was four years old. Soon thereafter Randy joined the family. Craig was tickled that he was not subjected to a sister! The first glimmer of Craig’s intrepid spirit shone in the swimming pool where he swam and dove with courage and delight.
At the age of twelve‚ the family moved again‚ this time to Sacramento. As a young boy Craig was part of the gifted student program‚ and was a pleasure to his teachers. Mary Lou enrolled Craig at Sacramento Country Day before his junior year of high school. His scholastic aptitude and high test scores gained him admission to UC Berkeley in 1984‚ where his parents had met years earlier. While at Cal he formed many lifelong friendships‚ most influential of which was with Ingrid Bailey.
He caught the ski bug‚ and moved to Kirkwood‚ California. The seasonal lifestyle led to a summer position as a Wildland Firefighter on the Silver State Hotshots. Almost immediately Craig became intrigued with the aerial aspects of firefighting.
With a little arm twisting from Ingrid‚ Craig moved to the Manoa Valley of Oahu‚ Hawaii in 1990‚ and took a position as a high-rise window cleaner. Craig quickly adapted to the tropical pleasures of scuba diving‚ beach parties and island culture. He combated the high cost of living with a stint as a cave dweller. Always abreast of the latest technology‚ Craigïs cave was equipped with one of the first cell phones as well as stereo music. Window cleaning provided the means to finance training as a pilot. To faster accumulate multi-engine flight hours‚ Craig flew a volunteer mail run to the leper colony on the island of Molokai. With the encouragement of his flight instructor‚ he continued to earn advanced ratings‚ which qualified him to fly cargo planes out of Saipan‚ in the South Pacific.
In 1996 Craig moved with his girlfriend to the Denver area. It was at this time he hired on as a co-pilot for Hawkins and Powers Aviation. He flew the KC-97‚ a close relative of the B-29‚ out of Ft. Wainwright‚ Alaska for two years. Back in the lower 48‚ Craig spent a great deal of time at the family ranch in the Dunnigan Hills near Woodland‚ California. On one of these outings‚ with a little help from Ingrid‚ Craig renewed an old Kirkwood friendship with Laurie Houchins. While on a group camping trip to the Big Sur Coast on New Years Eve‚ Craig and Laurie’s friendship evolved into a storybook love affair. The couple married February 26th‚ 2001 at the family home in a ceremony which Ingrid performed.
During the year and half they were married‚ Laurie enjoyed her role as a Suburban housewife‚ following Craig throughout the fire season to each new dispatch in their Chevy Suburban. Everywhere they went people were touched by their devotion to one another and the depth of their connection.
In the fall of 2001‚ after three seasons as co-pilot in the C-130 Hercules‚ Craig earned his Initial Attack Captains Card‚ an achievement he was extremely proud of.
The following spring‚ the couple bought their first home on the North Coast of California‚ near their dear friend Ingrid. Craig was excited to finally apply his talents as a carpenter and handyman to a home of his own.
On June 17th‚ 2002 Craig’s life came to a tragic end while flying on the Canon Fire near Walker‚ California.