Francis N. Craig, a retired Edgewood Arsenal scientist, died of respiratory failure Thursday at the Broadmead Retirement Community in Cockeysville. He was 100 and had previously lived in the Loreley section of Baltimore County near White Marsh.
His daughter, Dorothy Parker Craig of Seattle, Wash., said that the centenarian enjoyed two martinis a night and smoked a pipe until last year, when his retirement community prohibited it. He also took daily walks and played bridge. He drove until he was 98.
Born in Englewood, N.J., he was the son of a DuPont chemist and a kindergarten teacher. He was a graduate of Rutgers University and earned a doctorate in biology at Harvard University. Family members said that after he completed his studies, he taught at Harvard and held fellowships at hospitals including Columbia University, Massachusetts General Hospital and New York University.
He moved to Maryland in 1946 and joined the medical laboratories at the Research and Engineering Command of the Army's Chemical Corps at the Edgewood Arsenal. A physiologist, he received the Army Research and Development Achievement Award in 1963 for work on the "problem of measuring the volume of gas inhaled by a soldier exposed to a surprise attack before he could gain the protection of a gas mask."
His daughter said he had soldiers run for long periods on treadmills at his lab. As part of his studies on gas attacks, he measured their ability to hold their breath during and after prolonged muscular activity.
In 1954, he participated in a scientific exchange program. He, his wife and his daughters lived in Salisbury, England, while he did research at the old Chemical Defense Experimental Establishment at Porton Down in Wiltshire.
Dr. Craig retired in 1978 as supervisory research physiologist and chief of the Medical Physiology Branch of the Army's Bio-Medical Laboratory at the Edgewood Arsenal.
He was a member of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, Sigma Xi Scientific Research Society, the Harvey Society, the American Physiological Society and the Society for Experimental Biology and Medicine.
He was also a member of the First Thursday Club, a lunch discussion group based in Bel Air. For many years he was treasurer of St. John's Episcopal Church in Kingsville.
Family members said he played bridge regularly at Broadmead until the last months of his life.
In retirement he began extensive genealogical research and traced his family lines to the ninth-century Vikings in Norway. He was a contributor to The New England Historical and Genealogical Register and the American Genealogist publications.
His daughter said he searched parish records and church yards in Britain, New England and the West, including the Mormon library in Salt Lake City. He was a patron of the George Peabody and Enoch Pratt Free libraries. In later years he visited the Baltimore County's Cockeysville library. Most recently, he would read and re-read books at the Broadmead library.
"Every morning he'd be out, dressed with a sporty hat with an eagle feather in the brim," said a Broadmead neighbor, Nancy Boyce. "He had a walking stick and hiked up the hill."
In 1940 he married the former Mary Parker Lewis, a Girl Scout Council of Central Maryland official who was also active in Planned Parenthood. She died March 7, 1987, in an airplane accident at Edgewood Arsenal.
They had traveled widely throughout Europe and eastern Canada.
Family and friends will gather in memory of Dr. Craig from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. March 4, at Broadmead Retirement Community, Fireplace Room, second floor Hallowell Hall, 13801 York Road, Cockeysville.
In addition to his daughter, survivors include two other daughters, Margaret Susan Craig of Frederick and Barbara Lewis Craig of Worcester, Mass.; two granddaughters; and a great-granddaughter.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun