It is with deep sadness that the Wantagh Fire Department announce the untimely passing of Commissioner Craig J. Craft on Wednesday, September 13, 2017.
Commissioner Craft started his career in the Wantagh FD on October 25, 1982, and quickly worked his way up the ranks, serving as Lieutenant and Captain of Rescue 2. From 1991 to 1993 he served as an Assistant Chief. In addition, Craig, or ‘Crafty,’ as he was affectionately known, served on many department committees during his 34-plus years of service including Membership, Fire Prevention, Training, EMS, 4th of July and many others. Craig has always been a friend and mentor to many, especially newer members as they learned the ropes. He had been a Fire Commissioner for almost 24 years since being elected in December 1993, serving as Chairman of the Board four times and was currently in his fifth year as Vice-Chairman. In 2008 Craig was elected to serve as President of the Association of Fire Districts of Nassau County.
In addition to his service to the Wantagh Fire Department, Commissioner Craft has served the residents of Nassau County as the Commissioner of the Office of Emergency Management since 2011. In that capacity, Commissioner Craft was responsible for leading the efforts to plan for and mitigate natural and man-made disasters, including Superstorm Sandy.
Hundreds paid their respects for Commissioner Craft at Wantagh Fire Headquarters over a three-day period starting Friday September 15, 2017 and ending with a full Inspector’s Funeral, complete with a helicopter flyover, pipes and drums and a motorcycle escort by the Nassau County Police Department on Sunday September 17. During a Firematic Service on Friday evening Craig’s mother, Barbara, was presented with a WFD Chief’s helmet by Chief of Department James Bloomfield in honor of Craig’s 34-plus years of service. The helmet was donated by Karen from Hi-Tech.
Nassau County Police Chaplain Rabbi Dov Schwartz officiated at the funeral service, County Executive Edward P. Mangano called Craig a “true friend” to Nassau County and praised Craft for acquiring a great deal of military surplus equipment for use by many county departments. Other speakers included Craig’s aunt, brother-in-law, and brother, Craig’s brother Mitchel who thanked Craig’s longtime girlfriend Terry, her children and grandchildren for being “the epicenter of Craig’s life.”
Rob DeSanto, a former member of the Wantagh FD, read a letter from Craig’s niece, Kaylee, before giving his final words. He began by saying, “to make a short story long,” (one of the phrases used when Craig would speak.)
Craig is survived by his mother, Barbara, brothers, Scott, Michael, Mitchell (Lynn), sister Tammy, many nieces and nephews, longtime girlfriend Terry and her children Rob DeSanto (Diana), and Kristen (Mike). After wake and Funeral Services were held at Wantagh Fire Headquarters, Commissioner Craft was laid to rest at New Montefiore Cemetery in West Babylon.
– Fire News photos by Harry Loud and Kevin Imm; story by Kevin Regan, PIO