Pat Craddock made an impact — in his home, in his community, in courtrooms, on softball diamonds and on basketball courts — during what the pastor of Winnetka’s Divine Mercy parish at Sacred Heart church described as “a stellar life.”
“Pat was never about himself,” the Rev. Steven M. Lanza said during the celebration of the life of Joseph Patrick Craddock on Friday, Dec. 1. “He was always about others.
“He was the ultimate family man: husband, father, grandfather, great-grandfather. He reveled in bringing people together and celebrating their successes. He led by example. He was dependable. He was humble.”
J. Patrick Craddock, who suffered from pulmonary fibrosis, died suddenly at age 89 on Nov. 17 at his Northfield home.
He and his wife, Arlen, moved the Northfield in 2000 after having lived in Winnetka since 1972.
They were married on Aug. 2, 1958.
“We were married in August, I became pregnant in September and we celebrated our first anniversary with a baby girl,” remembered Arlen, who met Pat on a blind date when she was a student at Loyola University and he was home on Christmas vacation from the University of Notre Dame.
Craddock was born during The Great Depression on Sept. 7, 1934, on the Northwest side of Chicago where his parents lived on the second floor of a two-flat apartment. He began his lifelong involvement in sports at Welles Park and went on to become a star athlete at (now defunct) St. George High School in Evanston.
After graduating in 1952 he went to Notre Dame where he made coach Johnny Jordan’s basketball team as a walk-on.
He continued playing basketball until he was in his mid-80s, competing in Friday morning pickup games at Brooks Park on Chicago’s Northwest side.
After getting his undergraduate degree from Notre Dame in 1956, Craddock began working as an insurance claims adjustor for All-State. He began attending Loyola University at night and earned a master’s degree in industrial commerce in 1965. Then, he went to law school at John Marshall at night and graduated in 1968.
Craddock began his legal career in 1968 in the office of the Lake County state’s attorney. The following year he moved to private practice, working for Herbert Stride. He remained with the firm for the remainder of his career that spanned five decades and became a partner in the firm Stride, Craddock and Stride.
“Dad was an intrepid lawyer and a constant reminder on how to conduct yourself in the practice of law,” said his son, Michael, who worked with him for 16 years at Stride, Craddock and Stride.
“In addition to being a great husband, father, grandfather and great-grandfather, Pat also was a great lawyer,” said Paul Nowland, of Glen Ellyn, his friend of 71 years dating back to their days at Notre Dame who went on to become DuPage County judge.
“He tried two cases before me and he excelled.”
Virtually all the while he was practicing law he also was excelling in 16-inch softball and basketball.
Indicative of Craddock’s love of sports, a table adjacent to the altar at the funeral Mass displayed a White Sox baseball cap, a 16-inch softball, a basketball, and some of his many medals and trophies.
At one point, he played in five different softball leagues. He also played in pickup basketball games and helped form a league at Sacred Heart parish. In his spare time, he played handball, and in middle age he took up skiing, bringing the family on trips to Colorado and Utah.
In the 1990s, Craddock and some other senior citizen of Chicago basketball supported the former DuSable High School and Seattle University star Charlie Brown when he founded the Windy City Shootout and Windy City Senior Basketball League on the South Side.
He went on to play in senior tournaments in Utah, Florida, New York, Indiana and other states.
“I joined his group in Charlie Brown’s league and then played with him at Sacred Heart and in some of the tournaments and at Brooks Park,” remembered Perry Frangos, of Chicago.
“His body strength was one of the things I remember. He was tall and it seemed like what he enjoyed most was setting screens to get his teammates good shots.”
In 2017 Craddock was inducted into the Masters Basketball U.S.A. Hall of Fame “for being an exceptionally noteworthy … participant in Masters Basketball U.S.A. 40-80 years of age 5 x 5 basketball for 15 or more years.”
“Sports was one of the bonding things for us,” his youngest son, Tom, said. “Growing up we watched his games and later he watched ours. For him (when he was in his 80s) the perfect Saturday was getting up early, going to Mariano’s to get the paper, reading the paper and then making a list of his grandchildren’s games that he would be going to that weekend.”
When his son, Michael, was on the John Carroll football team, he traveled to such off-the-beaten-path destinations as Bethany, West Virginia, and Grove City, Ohio, to see him play.
In recent years when grandsons Conor and Ryan played football at Loyola Academy, he was a fixture at their home games at Hoerster Field.
Craddock is survived by his wife of 65 years; four daughters Kelley (John) Fraza of Carlsbad, Calif., Mary (Jon) Hoffman of Springfield, Va., Maureen (Joseph B. III) Carini of Glenview and Eileen (Timothy) Richardson of Chicago; five sons J. Patrick III (Kristin) of Salt Lake City, Michael (Megan) of Chicago, Kevin (Michelle) of Las Vegas, Timothy (Liz) of Glenview and Thomas (Mindi) of Wilmette; 16 grandchildren; and a great granddaughter.
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Neil Milbert was a staff reporter for the Chicago Tribune for 40 years, covering college (Northwestern, Illinois, UIC, Loyola) and professional (Chicago Blackhawks, Bulls, horse racing, more) sports during that time. He won a Pulitzer Prize for his work on a Tribune travel investigation and has covered Loyola Academy football since 2011.