Former Sports Center owner Wade Craig dies at 77

Published 6:19 pm Monday, August 2, 2021

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NATCHEZ — Long time Sports Center owner Wade Craig died at the age of 77 Monday. He leaves behind his mom, Josie Craig, and sons Bobby and Wyatt Craig.
Craig’s father began the business in 1946, and he took ownership in the 1960s.

In December 2020, Craig retired from ownership and sold the business to his son Wyatt Craig, said Crystal Rodriguez, a Sports Center employee.

Rodriguez and Sports Center employees Chip Sturdivant and Shonda Graves remember him as a kind and generous man.

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“I have worked for him since 2010, and he was one of the kindest people you would ever meet,” Rodriguez said. “He would give his shirt off his back. He was a great boss to work for.”

One of the ways he showed kindness to people was when he helped a man who washed cars, Graves said.
“He was generous all of the time to everyone,” Graves said. “He told the gentleman across the street that washed cars that he could set up in the parking lot of Sports Center for free instead of paying rent where he was at.”

Chip Sturdivant said he shared common interests with Craig about history and sports. He said they would converse all the time about those topics. Craig was a boss who checked in on him when he needed it, he said.

Sturdivant said Craig gave him a job and taught him the importance of customer service. He was a shrewd businessman who navigated the company through an ever-changing world, he said.

“I learned to treat customers with good service, and after you help them, hopefully, you become their friend,” Sturdivant said. “You do that by not only waiting on them, but you become their friend by getting to know them. When the customers came into the store, they became like family. People are very loyal to this store because of Mr. Craig and Mr. Bowlin. When they shopped here, they were like family.”