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Craig Lauder

December 21, 2020 in Milwaukie, Oregon, of natural causes.

If you saw Craig on campus and asked, “How are you?” he would answer in the ironic tone that was his trademark, “Living the dream.” One suspected that he was, however, living his dream.

Matt Kelly, director of donor relations at Reed, remembered, “He had a reputation for Hawaiian shirts, sardonic one-liners, large brightly colored instructional signs designed to prevent history from repeating itself, and prompt detail-oriented work.”

Born in Aberdeen, Washington, Craig graduated from Weatherwax High School and then gained certification as an offset reprographics printer from Clover Park Vocational-Technical Institute. His trade and forte was printing the old-school way: mixing inks, burning plates, and setting type. In his 20s, he worked in the printing industry in San Jose, California, and was something of a party animal, obsessed with golfing with friends every chance he could.

By his late 30s, he had mellowed out and quit drinking and smoking. He began working in Reed’s print shop in 1995, quickly earning a reputation for exacting standards and the care he took with his work. Craig went the extra mile to ensure that deadlines were met for everyone who came through the door. Thousands of Reed graduates passed through the print shop to have their thesis bound, and sharing that special moment with students was what Craig said kept him at Reed.

“His combination of gruff and sweet is what made my daughter think of Kamaji, the boiler man from Spirited Away, when she met Craig,” said Emily Hebbron, faculty administrative coordinator. “He’s running the place from the basement, with people making crazy demands, and through it all, he’s still looking out for you.”

Prof. Darius Rejali [political science 1989–] recalled elevator chats with Craig in Eliot Hall where both men talked frankly about caring for aging parents, life in Portland, and how retirement could not come soon enough. “We did this for decades,” Rejali said. Craig died one day before his retirement was to commence.

“Favorite curmudgeon of all time!” Prof. Peter Rock [English 2001–] said of Craig. “Always a ‘Well, work day ends in half an hour—that’s the good news!’ and some mysterious muttering as I handed him some last-minute, impossible, and probably personal work to do. What was he saying? Did anyone dress more brightly? So capable, too, and always got it done, often stealthily delivered to my office before I expected it. In my classes, the students have to make and bring copies of their writing to distribute; they began every semester in fear of Craig, and within months were True Believers.”

It took five years of working with Craig for Andrew Lonergan, director of investments at Reed, to achieve what he felt was insider status with Craig.

“That feeling was never stronger than when I would watch him put some frazzled senior through the wringer because they filled out their thesis printing request incorrectly,” Lonergan said. “I always thought he was teaching them important life skills about accountability. About three to four times a year he would help me put together a big presentation. The dance went like this: I’d go to the print shop and tell him I needed ‘another one of those big books put together;’ he’d make it clear that it couldn’t have come at a worse time; and with those formalities out of the way we’d be off and working on the project. His work was always done on time and with a meticulous attention to detail, regardless of the dozen-plus other projects he was no doubt working on. He was a character in the best sense of the word, and Reed College will be a less colorful place in his absence.”

Outside of work, Craig actively pursued his bucket-list activities: taking cooking classes with Emeril Lagasse in New Orleans, trying his hand at stunt-plane flying and NASCAR driving, and, of course, golf. He attended the 2010 Masters Tournament in Augusta, Georgia, and five years later toured the Old Course at St. Andrews in Scotland—known as “the home of golf.” After exploring Scotland, he met up in Liverpool with his niece, Crystalyn Brennan, for a days-long immersion in Beatles culture, his all-time favorite band.

“We headed on to London for shopping sprees (cashmere sweaters! suede driving shoes!) and more amazing food,” Crystalyn remembered. “He took several trips across the U.S. each year, sometimes for work, tacking on a few extra days to explore (especially if there was golf nearby!) and went to Vegas multiple times a year always taking in the Love show (Beatles), which he saw nearly a dozen times.”

Craig was the cool uncle who bought Nintendo and fancy Christmas dresses, and took his nieces and nephews to Disneyland, on speedboat rides in Portland, and on helicopter rides in New York. There were also birthday shopping sprees at Harrods and Vegas. A good cook, he loved great seafood and fine dining. He had season tickets to the symphony, was a die-hard Seahawks and Lakers fan, and his stereo was usually blasting the Beatles or Frank Zappa. Indulging in the finer things in life, he was a snappy dresser whose signature style included cashmere sweaters, Tommy Bahama shirts, and driving loafers in the brightest of coordinating colors.

 “Every spring, hundreds of seniors descended on the print shop to get their thesis printed before graduation, and, every spring, Craig managed to get all of their theses done,” said Angie Beiriger, director of research services. “We have a team in the library that helps students prepare their theses for final printing. And it was always such a relief and source of joy when we signed off on the final version and could tell them it was ready for printing. They were done! Because we knew that once they took their thesis to Craig, he would get it finished. Although he did have that gruff exterior, we always knew he would get it done. Thousands of Reedies encountered Craig at a crucial time in their Reed career, and he remains a part of all of their theses. A bit of Craig will live forever in the thesis tower along with all of those printed, bound volumes.”

Appeared in Reed magazine: March 2021

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