Craig Neckers ’71

Craig Steven Neckers, age 71, of Grand Rapids, Michigan, passed away surrounded by his family on Thursday, October 7, 2021 after a valiant battle against ALS.

Craig was born on October 27, 1949 in Erie, Pennsylvania to Doris and Carlyle Neckers.  He was raised in New York, spending his childhood in the Town of Clymer and at Light House Point on Chautauqua Lake.  Craig especially enjoyed Boy Scouts’ camp (where he eventually became an Eagle Scout) and fishing on the lake.  He also developed a deep love of music and learning at the Chautauqua Institution.

Following in the footsteps of his grandfather, parents, and brothers, he attended Hope College in Holland, Michigan. There he made lifelong friends as a member of the Cosmopolitan Fraternity (he continued to gather regularly throughout his life with the “Good Guys” – his closest friends from the fraternity) and, most importantly, met his future wife, Joan Hendricks. After Craig’s graduation, he and Joan moved to Albany, New York where Craig attended Albany Law School.

On August 26, 1972, Craig and Joan married in Grand Rapids, where Craig went on to enjoy a long and successful career as a trial lawyer.

Craig and Joan joined Central Reformed Church in 1975. Craig’s faith guided his path in life. His closest friendships were formed at Central with a group that recently named themselves the “Zoomers” in honor of their weekly video happy hours during the pandemic.

Although his faith and friends were of paramount importance to Craig, he loved and was devoted to his family above all else. Craig and Joan raised three boys, Joel (Kimberly Victor), Todd (Kate Lautenbach), and Scott (Jessica Sourile). Craig’s influence on his sons is no more apparent than in their choices of college (all three went to Hope College) or vocation (all three are attorneys). As a family, they loved ski trips to Copper Mountain and spending time on Mackinac Island at Grand Hotel.  However, most of all, they loved summers at their cottage on Silver Lake in Rockford, Michigan, where Craig relished the annual wiffleball game, biathlon, fireworks display, and countless other traditions and activities.

He also took great joy in being a grandpa to Madeline, Elia, Griffin, Wells, and Whitaker, and his grandchildren loved him dearly. When his grandson, Wells (age 6), found out about Grandpa’s passing, his response was “I wish we had more time with him.”

Craig was asked recently if he had ever “won” anything.  Rather than answer as many would with reference to a sporting event or court trial, he responded stating, “Yes, I won the love and friendship of Joan and from that we have made a beautiful family and we are blessed by a God who loves and watches over us and has given us His grace. I’m a winner alright. I won Joan whom I love with all my being.”

Craig was many things to many people. He was a steady and loving husband, father, grandfather, friend, advisor, mentor, and law partner. When Craig’s oldest son, Joel, at a young age asked Craig what he did at work, Craig’s response was, “I help people.” Craig’s answer is indicative of the person he was throughout his life.  He worked hard each day to make other peoples’ lives better and easier, and those around him benefitted from his steadfastness, wisdom, giving spirit, and integrity (a trait he valued above all others).

Craig was preceded in death by his parents, sister-in-law Suzanne (Evans) Neckers, and dear friends and mentors Bud Ridder and George Brown. He is survived by his wife, children, grandchildren, and brothers Douglas Neckers and Bruce (Susie) Neckers.

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