Natchez resident named Ageless Hero

Published 12:00 am Thursday, January 6, 2000

Johnnie Craig’s secret to vitality at age 91 is simple: &uot;Just do it.&uot; That philosophy seems to have worked for Craig, who has worked for 25 years with the Retired Senior Volunteer Program and Natchez Regional Medical Center’s volunteers, the Pink Ladies. She also dresses teddy bears for the Salvation Army.

And for her efforts, the Natchez resident has been named an Ageless Hero by Blue Cross &&160;Blue Shield. She and 17 others from across the state will be honored Jan. 25 at a luncheon in Hattiesburg.

Each year, the program honors 18 of the state’s senior citizens for being role models in such categories as community involvement, creativity, love of learning and vitality.

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For tackling a busy schedule of volunteerism with her trademark vigor, Craig was nominated as an Ageless Hero in the vitality category by Janet McNeely, director of the Natchez Senior Citizens’ Multi-Purpose Center.

In her nomination application, McNeely called Craig &uot;an excellent example of vitality – a shining example of extraordinary physical and mental abilities.&uot;

But according to Craig, her busy schedule is the reason she has so much energy. &uot;My motto is, ‘A day not planned is a day lost,’&uot; she said. &uot;I’m never idle.&uot;

Craig started with RSVP in 1975 teaching crocheting, quilting and other crafts.

From there, she branched out to join the Pink Ladies. She usually works in the hospital’s gift shop or at the information desk and also helps set up the organization’s book sales and jewelry sales.

Craig helps dress teddy bears for the Salvation Army. The organization auctions some of the bears to raise money for toys for children. The rest are given to children and nursing home patients. She also helps send mail-outs for the Natchez Opera Festival and has volunteered with the Stewpot, a local program to feed the needy, and the Pilot Club, a service organization.

Craig said she was surprised by the Ageless Heroes designation and is looking forward to her trip to Hattiesburg and many more years of volunteering. With such a schedule, she said, &uot;At least I’m never bored.&uot;

Craig is not the only Adams County resident to be named an Ageless Hero in recent years. In 1999, Dorothee Wagner and Glen Blackwell won regional designations and Harriet Smith was named a statewide Ageless Hero.