Love and Technology: Charlie Craig ’65, P’89

Charlie '65, P'89 and Trudy P'89 Craig in 2023, after he accepted Alfred State College's Presidential Medal. Craig earned Dickinson's Distinguished Alumni Award in 2020.

Charlie '65, P'89 and Trudy P'89 Craig in 2023, after he accepted Alfred State College's Presidential Medal. Craig earned Dickinson's Distinguished Alumni Award in 2020.

Tracing a path toward a high-tech, international career

by MaryAlice Bitts-Jackson

It was September of Charlie Craig’s junior year, and he’d stopped by his fraternity house between classes. A newspaper article caught his eye. He didn’t know it then, but that article would set off a chain of events that would compel Craig—a local boy, living just a few blocks from campus—to launch his career more than 3,500 miles away.

A family legacy

This Dickinson story begins in Carlisle with Craig’s parents, Robert and Evelyn Clark Craig, both members of the class of ’39. Two aunts (Virginia Clark Chilton ’36 and Mary Clark McKnight ’44) and an uncle (Virginia’s husband, Robert ’38) were also alumni, along with a great-aunt (Helen Neyhard, class of 1915).

Growing up close to campus, Craig intended to go away to college, like his cousins. That changed after his father passed away during his junior year at Carlisle High. Enrolling at Dickinson as a commuter student allowed him to save money on room and board while working evenings in the lab at Carlisle Hospital to help support his widowed mother.

Craig flourished academically as a major in chemistry with a minor in geology, but he also enjoyed learning about psychology, anthropology, political science and English. Also important: Craig found time to attend Red Devil sports events and pledge Kappa Sigma (eventually, he was named chapter vice president).

It was at Kappa Sig House that Craig spied that fateful Carlisle Sentinel article—and was captivated by the strikingly beautiful exchange student pictured on the front page.

Leap of faith

Trudy Koenig had already completed two years of college in her native Peru, and she’d come to America to sharpen her English skills as a student at Carlisle High.

“She arrived in Carlisle with what seemed like celebrity status and fanfare,” remembers Craig. He discovered Koenig was staying with the family of Sam Padjen, a former Dickinson football star who’d graduated with Craig’s parents in 1939. Padjen’s son was a Carlisle High classmate. Soon, Craig was introducing himself to Trudy at the Padjen home.

Craig dated Koenig throughout his junior year, and as she prepared to return home, he promised he’d join her in Peru after graduation. Six weeks after Commencement, he took that leap of faith.

They married the following January and settled in the Andes Mountains region. Their first two children, Suzanne and Jennifer, were born roughly 12.5 thousand feet above sea level; heart-breakingly, Jennifer passed away soon after birth, due to an infection contracted at a hospital in the Andes. A third child, Rob, was born in Peru’s capital city, Lima.

Culture and tech

Craig was working as a research chemist and supervisor at one of the world’s most advanced mining and metals concerns. He was promoted to second in command of laboratory operations, overseeing a 12-person team of Spanish-speaking engineers. Some had been educated in the U.S. and Europe. Others, generational descendants of the Incas, had never ventured far from home.

His coursework in the social sciences, paired with his science background, was key to his success. “Dickinson broadened my perspectives on just about everything and developed my appreciation for the diversity of individuals and their cultural backgrounds,” Craig explains.

Craig continued to move up the ranks and, after graduate studies in chemistry/geology/metallurgy at the University of Minnesota, he was hired as senior chemist in the engineering division of Corning Glass Works, now Corning Incorporated, an industry titan that employs technical staff from nearly 45 countries.

The happy ending

This love story has a happy ending: The Craigs celebrated their 58th anniversary this year, and they’ve entered a new phase of life together. A recipient of Dickinson’s 2020 Distinguished Alumni Award for Professional Achievement, Craig retired as Corning’s senior vice president of science and technology and director of administration and operations in 2023.

Today, the Craigs are making the most of the cultural and natural riches of the Finger Lakes region of New York, their home for some 50 years. Daughter Suzanne ’89 is vice president and deputy general counsel for a Philadelphia-based national healthcare firm; she and her husband have three children and live in the Philadelphia region. Son Rob is a senior marketing manager at the Sullivan Park R&D Center in Corning, N.Y.

Looking back over the early events that molded his life and career, Craig is grateful for the skills and mindset that allowed him to take that big leap of faith when love and opportunity came knocking. “I owe a lot of my growth to the skills and perspectives learned at Dickinson years ago,” he says.


Published March 4, 2024