Craig  Oler

"You may all go to hell, and I will go to Texas." -- Craig Oler, circa 1997 (via Davy Crocket, but who's counting?) Craig W. Oler passed away (he'd hate to say quietly, so we won't) October 1st with his family by his side. Craig's loving wife Liz Marcusen and two Renaissance Daughters, Vanessa and Lisette (Connor) survive him, along with his mother (who will outlive us all) June, brother Van (Katherine), sister Michelle, and a gaggle of nephews and nieces who always knew Uncle Craig as the man with all the guns. He was preceded in death by his father, Bill Oler. To say Craig's personality was larger than life is an understatement. His opinions on barbecue and politics were widely known, but his behind-the-scenes service spoke louder than words. He was always the first to notice those others had overlooked and reach out, the first to volunteer for hurricane relief assignments, and first to point out when bureaucracy was getting in the way of doing the right thing. He made lasting, deep friendships wherever he went -- China, Russia, London, Taiwan, India, and even the Republic of Texas. Born in Idaho Falls, Craig was a colicky baby but (luckily for all of us) a dear friend of June's from Chicago sent her a pamphlet that stated nothing but the truth: colicky babies grow up to be leaders of men. This leadership streak developed early, and by the time he graduated from Idaho Falls High School, Craig was the Jr. Civitan President, a prominent member of Forensic Knights, Boys' State Speaker of the House, Parliamentarian of Student Council, and included in the Who's Who of American High School Students. Craig attended Brigham Young University as a Double Ruby Debater with a merit scholarship to the School of Communications. This does not surprise any of us, as his way with words has been called legendary by everyone from the girls signing his senior yearbook to CEOs of multi-billion dollar companies. He read more in one lifetime than the average person could read in ten, and often joked he'd be the smartest man on Earth at the end of the world because he had two full sets of the Encyclopedia Britannica. Serving as a full-time missionary in the Roanoke Virginia Mission, Craig drummed up some wild stories, found fellow truth-seekers, and fell in love with Southern barbecue. September 13, 1974 he was transferred to the Mission Office to work as the Public Relations Secretary for the opening of the Washington DC Temple. Returning to BYU, his membership in another Home Evening Group proved most pivotal as he would meet the ever-independent Liz Marcusen. The two weren't fast friends (she thought he was cocky.... and... well... we can't disagree with that one), but after a semester of complaining to each other about bad dates, taking early morning motorcycle rides to class, and some nearly treacherous ski trips, all bets were off. They picked out a ring and a date and got married! We (the daughters you have yet to meet in this story) often joke that our parents did retirement before they had kids (smart) and have had to catalog and serialize the countless tales from their adventures. As brevity is the soul of wit, we shall leave you with only this tantalizing list of hints as to what their first 10 years of marriage included: Mining gold in Alaska. Crashing a bush plane. Organic chemistry on butcher paper. Managing Fast Lane Burgers in Arizona. Ice climbing Bridal Veil Falls. Lamanite Generation Tours. Grant writing for artists. Graduation. Master's Degree. China. Twice. In 1985, Craig and Liz accepted a professorial exchange with Xi'an Foreign Languages Institute and found themselves dropped into the Ancient Capital of China, with only one semester's worth of basic Chinese. For the next two years, Craig taught American History and Liz taught Conversational English to students who were hungry for knowledge and ready to shape their future of their country. Craig was set apart as the first Branch President for the LDS Church in Mainland China by now President Nelson. His students often referred to him as "Lao Hua Tou" or Old Culture Head, completely immersing himself in local culture and customs. In 1997, Craig and Liz moved to Houston, Texas with Compaq, a 10-year old Vanessa and a 3-year old Lisette in tow. Notably, the family's first meal in Texas was Whataburger while waiting out a traffic jam on FM 1960. Craig served in leadership callings in the LDS Wards and Stakes, and was most frequently found on the back row in a brightly colored shirt and tie, prodding the teacher to dig deeper into the doctrine. Always the rifleman, Craig was pretty much forced into shotgun sports by Vanessa and Lisette. With only a 6/25 Score to his name, he happened into a group of Old Farts who shot every Saturday and most Sundays at Carter's Country. They took him under their wing and Craig became not only an excellent shot, but a coach and champion of shooting sports, especially for youth. Craig was an organizing force behind the Montgomery County 4-H shotgun team, continued to coach long after Lisette graduated the program and went on to found the University of Texas Trap & Skeet Team. He was at all her competitions, no matter how many hours he had to drive across Texas. We are truly honored to be part of Craig's life and legacy. We will miss his witty commentary, his insights into the human condition, and his love of life. A gathering for friends and family was held October 16th from 1:00-3:00pm at Klein Memorial, 16131 Champion Forest Dr, Spring, TX 77379). Light refreshments and funny stories served. Bring your favorite memories to share or submit them online via If you would like to make a donation in Craig's honor, here are a few organizations that are near and dear to him and his family: Sons of Smokey Fostering a non-partisan movement for stewardship of the outdoors, founded by Craig's nephew MidWay USA Foundation Benefiting University of Texas Trap & Skeet Team (R65899) Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship Promotes the study, illumination, preservation, and accessibility of religious texts and ancient scriptural sources Craig 11/19/1954 - 10/1/2021William Oler

Recommended for you