Yesterday afternoon in a room crowded with friends, family and co-workers, the Bossier Parish Sheriff's Department closed one of the brightest chapters in the history of the department.

Deputy Norman Craig, who originated the Bossier Parish Young Marines Program and has served for years as the SRO Officer at Princeton Elementary School, decided it was time to do a little travelling with Mama Sue and he quietly slid into the tranquil life of retirement.

Deputy Craig, who Sheriff Julian Whittington affectionately refers to as "Norm" only spent 9 years with the Sheriff's Department, but for those Young Marines and students of Princeton Elementary, they were 9 years of blessings.

I should know.  Deputy Craig is not just my friend, he's one of my heroes and he's my father in law.  For around 40 years, Norman, along with his Dad, Newman Craig, and son, Judge Mike Craig (Imagine that.  A Judge who knows how to work and has had dirt under his fingernails), operated Red Chute Auto Center and Craig's Power Sports (now Louisiana Power Sports) on the outskirts of Haughton, Louisiana.  It was during those years that Deputy Craig demonstrated to all of Bossier Parish how a good, kind, selfless, Christian man, can succeed in business, as at one point, Craig's Power Sports was the Number One Arctic Cat dealer in the nation.

In fact, earlier this year, Deputy Craig was honored as one of our Caught in the Act Award recipients.  Nominated by Princeton Elementary's Amber Beach, who herself is one of the finalists for Louisiana Teacher of the Year, we were told:

Officer Craig does so much more than keep our school safe and you will never meet a man with a bigger heart. We have many under privileged students at our school. Officer Craig stopped at nothing to make sure these children had the Christmas they deserved, and that their parents could not afford. He went out and bought toys for each of these children or found another officer with the Bossier Parish Sheriffs to purchase toys for these children. Aside from playing Santa, Officer Craig often mentors our students and relates to them on a personal level- the children of Prince ton adore him- He is making a difference in there lives. From the children to the adults at Princeton, he takes care of us all. He changes tires, cooks or orders lunch, watches classrooms, drys tears, and is always a listening ear.

Deputy Craig, who I call Papa, is a passionate man.  Loves life, loves his kids, really loves his grand kids, and he's the epitome of a "rough tough man's man" but with a gentle, soft heart.

To demonstrate that, I remember something he told me years ago.  I had just returned from a radio trip to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital and I was a little emotional, and he gave me some of the best advice I've ever received.  He told me, "That trip you just made proves that if money will fix it, then it's not a real problem."  Think about that.  Life's full of potholes, but for those sick kids, no amount of money could "fix" them.  They had real problems.  The rest of us, just have "Inconveniences."

So, when the greatness of the Bossier Parish Sheriff's Department is discussed, it's due to great leadership from men like Sheriff Whittington and the many men and women like Deputy Craig who gladly serve our community.

Semper Fi Papa!  Now take Mama Sue on a trip!  We'll cover things for you til you get back.