$60K Scholarship Named in Honor Established at West Virginia University

A $60,000 gift to West Virginia University’s College of Law aims to help the next generation of legal professionals through scholarship.

Alice Craig founded the William Rankin Craig Memorial Scholarship to memorialize her late husband, who died on April 11, 2018. The award offers financial assistance to students in the College of Law, as approved by the WVU Office of Financial Aid.

“The College of Law has a long-standing commitment to students with diverse backgrounds and abilities,” Amelia Smith Rinehart, William J. Maier, Jr. Dean and professor of law, said. “We are so grateful and honored that Bill’s family has chosen to celebrate his life as a well-respected lawyer and community member in West Virginia by making legal education more affordable for students who will continue that legacy.”

William “Bill” Craig, a native of Morgantown, left his hometown at a young age to pursue further education. He attended out-of-state boarding institutions before earning an undergraduate degree from Middlebury College in Burlington, Vermont.

His college experience was unlike most because he was blind. Bill was born with retrolental fibroplasia, a condition that affects premature infants and is caused by improper development of blood vessels in the retina. However, Bill continued to pursue his dreams.

Despite his outstanding marks, most law schools rejected Bill due to his vision disability. However, West Virginia University Law did. Bill returned to his hometown once he was accepted to university. In 1980, he received his law degree.

“Even though he was blind, he could do just about anything he put his mind to, except drive,” Alice Craig said. “He was so smart. Bill even learned how to folk dance and how to give his mother her medications.”

After graduation, Bill worked from home mostly as a support for other attorneys who were overburdened with casework. Alice became a paralegal to help Craig with his work.

Bill met his wife during a bridge card lesson in Charleston, North Carolina, where they were partners. Alice invited him on a church beach trip, where they became close and subsequently married.

While Alice never received assistance for her schooling, she understood the value of easing the financial load on others. Alice considered ways to give back and decided it was appropriate to gift in honor of her late spouse and his alma institution.

“I wanted to memorialize Bill. This scholarship is a way of remembering my husband and helping the school,” Alice said. “Him having been a student at WVU’s law school, I wanted to offer any deserving student a scholarship.”

The couple enjoyed taking walks together and visiting concerts.

Bill also enjoyed reading books, working with electronics, wiring, computers, playing the fretless bass guitar, going to the beach, and having Samoyed dogs.

Craig’s donation was made through the WVU Foundation, a non-profit entity that accepts and administers private donations on behalf of the university.

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