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Family, friends celebrate life of Craig Fox

By KBell
Aug. 20, 2011 at 3:20 a.m.
Updated Aug. 21, 2011 at 3:21 a.m.

Tim Williams, of Northside Baptist Church, leads a prayer at Craig Fox's gravesite Saturday at Memory Gardens Cemetery after his funeral service at Parkway Church. Fox died Wednesday after an almost four-year-battle with ALS.

Tim Williams, of Northside Baptist Church, leads a prayer at Craig Fox's gravesite Saturday at Memory Gardens Cemetery after his funeral service at Parkway Church. Fox died Wednesday after an almost four-year-battle with ALS.

Fun. Terribly mischievous. Resourceful. Fighter. Exemplary against an inexplicable and dreadful disease.

Many words and phrases were used to describe Craig Fox, as family and friends celebrated his 43 years of life Saturday morning.

Thoughtful. Bright. Philosophical. Full of it. Bearer of more life burdens than any one man ought to face.

Fox's uncle, T. Wayne Price, rattled off the descriptions in the eulogy he gave at Parkway Church, where about 225 people gathered for the hourlong service. On Friday night, about 500 people attended the visitation.

Price's portrayal was reinforced by the photographs filling the church - ones of silly faces at Disney World and others with Fox's wife Nancy, who died in 2005.

Were it not for the old, faded film, photos of a toddler, Fox could be confused with those of his two children, Tanner, 16 and Bailey, 13.

Price reiterated how he knew his nephew.

"I know more actually than I can say," he said, evoking laughter from the sniffles and tears.

Before Fox was diagnosed with ALS, the disease that would eventually take his life, he could most likely be found fishing or watching a ball game.

Whatever he was doing, you could bet there was laughter, Price said.

"I think it was Craig. I think they captured him well," Fox's mother, Peggy, said after the funeral and burial at Memorial Gardens Cemetery.

Fox, after all, always had brought amusement to otherwise dismal situations.

Bill Hassel, who also has ALS, said Fox provided the entertainment in their ALS support group.

"Craig was always the life of the party. You never knew what he was going to say to crack us up," he said.

Hassel called Fox an inspiration and a true advocate for their disease.

The bond the two shared could go unspoken, even without a hug, as ALS weakened their voices and muscle movement. But Hassel said he could always see it in Fox's eyes, especially Tuesday night. That was the night before Fox died.

"For a moment, Craig looked around and looked right at me. I said, 'Let's pray,'" Hassel recalled. "We prayed for a peaceful night, and I hope that happened."

Saturday, a soft song - "I Will Rise" by Chris Tomlin - filled the church, providing a soundtrack to family photos and echoing Hassel's hope.

"There's a peace I've come to know, though my heart and flesh may fail. There's an anchor for my soul. I can say, 'It is well,'" the lyrics went.

Faith, Fox's mother has always said, is what enabled her son and the rest of the family to endure the trials of ALS until the end.

That - and the Victoria community.

"We've had such wonderful support," she said. "It will sustain us."

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