Sidney Marion Craft, Jr., DDS, died unexpectedly in Houston on Friday, July 24, 2020. The apparent cause was a fall inside his home. The news shocked his staff, patients, friends, and family.
A beloved orthodontist in Northwest Harris County since 1972, he was a kind and empathetic practitioner and brilliant clinician. Nationally recognized for his orthodontic judgment, Dr. Craft was sought out by patients for his technical expertise on difficult cases.
Born in Spartanburg, SC, on January 22, 1945, to parents Sidney Marion Craft, Sr., and Barbara (Davison) Craft, Sidney and his younger brother Charles grew up in Jackson, Mississippi, in a loving family that provided a stable and happy foundation for his life. He was a beloved older brother to Charles. The two were close and as children enjoyed visiting their Davison grandparents and being with their extended Craft family. Sidney was a part of a larger Craft clan of cousins that stayed close throughout their lives.
Sidney also had childhood friends that remained close until his death. Before the COVID-19 shutdown, he had traveled out to see lifelong friend United States District Judge William (Bill) Alsup on his California ranch in the Sierra Nevada. Dad had a love of nature, and adored hiking, traveling, and running. Hiking in the High Sierra with Bill (affectionately known as the "Trail Boss") and their Mississippi and California friends were meaningful, life-renewing experiences for him. As a result of more than 20 Sierra explorations, he became a skilled mountaineer.
Along with his High Sierra hiking pals, Sidney was a member of a civic organization founded by his high school friends called the Higgen Hogs formed as a playground team in grade school and reformed with the same name in high school to promote good government. This group of boys was a particularly progressive one in a time of tumult on Mississippi race relations. He remained friends with this group for the rest of his life.
For the first part of his life, sports was everything to Sidney. Growing up he played a lot of sandlot baseball with his neighborhood friends and "this is where Sidney began to shine," remembered Bill. Sidney was a gifted athlete, and this extended to every sport, including both junior high and high school football and baseball.
His family marveled at his natural athletic gifts, good looks and blazing intelligence. "He could do anything, and do it well. We went ice skating in Chicago once as children, and Sid having never skated, laced up his skates and stepped out on the ice like he was born in a pair of skates. He was like that with everything," recalled first cousin Ann Craft McKee.
While in high school, Sidney played American Legion baseball for the Jackson, Mississippi Valley Gas team. As a star player in high school and American Legion baseball, which won three state championships, one regional championship, and competed in the 1961 American Legion World Series, he signed a full scholarship in baseball with Mississippi State University. He played right field on the starting team for Mississippi State when they won two SEC championships (1965, 1966).
Sidney was prone to hitting "moon-shot" homeruns; his friends regarded him as a left-handed "power hitter." Bill noted a special gift with his eyesight and at bat, he could read the spin of the ball when it left the pitcher's hand, how it was thrown and he could then hit the ball on that sweet spot, resulting in a towering "shot" with a backspin on it that gave the ball that extra lift. "That skill is like shooting a fly from 1,000 feet away with a rifle," recalled Bill.
Sidney had it all. Possessing a muscular build resulting from hard, physical workouts, he was also handsome, charming and in demand as a date. "And his friends, we couldn't even be jealous because Sid was so nice, so kind, so gracious and still one of the guys," remembered Bill. Sidney was voted "Most Handsome" at Provine High School graduating class of 1963. Women found Sidney attractive and charismatic and he married three of them.
He was also gifted intellectually. The fact that he was so athletic and handsome made people overlook his sharp mind. He made mostly As in high school and college. Sidney attended Mississippi State University earning an undergraduate degree in Chemistry, and received degrees from the University of Tennessee College of Dentistry and the Department of Orthodontics in the University of North Carolina Adams School of Dentistry. He was a member of the American Dental Association, the Greater Houston Dental Society, the Foundation for Modern Bioprogressive Orthodontics, and the Texas Association of Orthodontics.
With his first wife, Naomi, he had two daughters, Rene and Michelle, who mourn his passing. Following the divorce in 1980, Sidney became the girls' primary parent for the rest of his life. He was a proud father to the accomplishments of his "two girls" and their husbands and children. He was a proud grandparent to Olivia, Jackson, and "T". He always said that he "had
the three best grandkids in the world." He enjoyed bragging of Olivia's academic brilliance, Jackson's artistic gifts, and T's adventurous spirit.
Travel, family and friends were key themes of Sidney's life. A grand trip around the world was completed in 1982 in which he visited countries from Japan to Kenya, Egypt to Nepal. The Craft cousins took annual trips all over the US each year for 15 years. Sidney's mother took the entire family skiing to Vail every year for 20 years.
Not only will he be missed by his family, he leaves behind scores of friends from multiple parts of his life: childhood in Jackson, his practice in Houston and The Woodlands, and his orthodontic study group that included special friends Dr. James Krivan and Dr. Charles Corwin. A small group of dentists that opened their practices in the early 1970s in the Champions area continued to be close friends, celebrating New Year's and birthdays together. The family of Dr. Richard and Janet Crow spent much treasured time with the Craft family.
Sidney had a special fondness for the Texas hill country. He loved his dogs. He and his ex-wife Mary Helen had many pedigreed German Shepherds at their home in Comfort, Texas, over the past 25 years. He was a dog lover and bragged on his dogs.
Left to mourn his passing are his daughters Rene (with husband Dan) and Michelle (with husband David), and their children of Austin; his brother Charles Craft and wife Margaret, of Madison, MS. Also left to mourn are his nieces and nephews, along with numerous cousins, his many friends and his office staff and patients. His staff was devoted to him. The family would like to thank Kathy Hurt for her 43 years of dedication. Dad always bragged that he had the best staff in the business. Other staff members serving for many years and caring for patients in the practice included Marty, Alexis, Brooke, Yesenia and Elise.
Due to COVID-19, the family will host a memorial to celebrate the life of Sidney at a later date. Please consider giving a donation in Dr. Sidney M. Craft's memory to the following charities: to his grandson's favorite organization, the Autism Society of Texas http://www.texasautismsociety.org, the Central Texas Humane Society https://www.centraltexasspca.org, or the Houston Foodbank https://www.houstonfoodbank.org.
He recently told his daughter Rene that the happiest time of his life was playing ball all day as a kid in Mississippi. "All I wanted to do was play ball," Sidney said. We take comfort knowing that heaven got a world-class right fielder in Sid.
Ron Goodbread, deceased
Carl Dicks, deceased
Jim Garrett, deceased