Surrounded by family, Tommy C. Craighead passed away peacefully at Mercy Hospital on April 17, 2019, following a short illness. Tommy Cecil Craighead was born on Oct. 24, 1928, on a farm north of Ardmore to the late Newell J. and Blanche Culley Craighead, Tommy packed a lifetime of living into his 90 years. Always quick with a quip or a story or a sage piece of advice, Tommy leaves behind an adoring family and a long list of friends.
A celebration of Tommy’s life will be held at 2 p.m. Monday, April 22, 2019, at CrystalRock Cathedral in Ardmore. Dr. Hayden Henry will officiate the service. There will be a private family burial. The family will host a visitation on Saturday evening at the Craddock Funeral Home from 6:30 to 8 p.m.
Pallbearers will be Mike Cawley, Bridge Cox, Sam Daube, Lance Jones, Jesse Storts and Keith Crites.
An attendant of Mount Washington School until its closure during World War II, Tommy finished his high school career as a Dickson Comet in the graduating class of 1946. Following a semester or two at Murray State in Tishomingo, where he pursued an associate’s degree in “billiards,” Tommy returned to Ardmore and met the love of his life, Billye Joy Craighead, at a softball game. They were married in Gainesville, Texas, on April 16, 1949. They would be married for 62 years, and from this union came three children: two sons, Tommy Don and Mel Van and one daughter, Lana Jayne.
A hard worker, Tommy used his smarts to deftly man the grill at the Hamburger Inn. It was there that James Thompson, the attorney for Lloyd Noble, noticed the young fry cook who never seemed to bat an eye at the complex orders the wait staff threw his way. When a position opened at Samedan, James recommended Tommy for a job in the mail room, and from those humble beginnings blossomed a wonderful working relationship between Tommy and various Noble family entities, culminating with a seat on the Board of Directors of Noble Drilling in 1988.
Work was Tommy’s great passion, and when he left Samedan in 1962 he founded his own firm, T. C. Craighead & Company,  installing himself as the lease buyer with his wife, Billye Joy, now a mother of three, as secretary. From that auspicious start rose one of southern Oklahoma’s most respected brokerage firms. No interest was too big or small for Tommy not to take the call, and his pro bono advice on oil and gas dealings will be greatly missed by residents throughout Carter County.
Tommy lived his entire life as an Ardmoreite, and his fingerprints are all over town. He served on several boards and was a driving force behind numerous fundraising campaigns. He was particularly proud of his affiliations with Mercy Hospital, Ardmore Convention Center, Ardmore Development Authority, Citizens Bank & Trust, Exchange National Bank, the Southern Oklahoma Association of Petroleum Landmen and the Carter County Livestock Show.
Since becoming a grandfather in 1982, Tommy transitioned from Mr. Craighead to Pappaw. He often said that his grandchildren were his proudest accomplishment, and his seven grandkids were the source of his biggest smiles and happiest memories. In a flurry of activity that began just over seven years ago, those seven grandchildren bore Tommy eight great-grandchildren, the most recent being born just four months ago.
Tommy’s hobbies and interests were wide-ranging. He was an avid cattleman, and loved scouring the countryside in search of a good real estate deal. A boxer and fine basketball and softball player in his youth, he took up golf once he entered the oil business and whittled his handicap down into the 3s at Dornick Hills. But no pursuit took up as much time and energy as his dedication to the University of Oklahoma. A football and basketball season ticket holder for over 40 years, he became hooked on the Sooners by listening to Tom Stidham’s 1938 Orange Bowl squad on the radio. While life’s circumstances prevented him from attending OU, he nevertheless became a champion of the school’s cause as a member of OU’s Seed Sower Society and the benefactor of the Tommy C. Craighead Chair in the School of Meteorology.
Busy as he was, Tommy always made time for the St. Louis Cardinals. He traced his fandom back to the Gashouse Gang of the 1930s and checked in on his Redbirds every day. Be it a matinée at Busch  Stadium or a late night on the west coast, Tommy would never miss a chance to watch the Cardinals.
Whether you knew him as Tommy, T. C., Top Cat, Mr. Craighead, Robert Redford, Dad or Pappaw, you no doubt share in his family’s loss.   
He is survived by his three children: Tommy Don Craighead and his wife Marilyn, of Norman, Mel Van Craighead and his wife Deana, and Lana Martin and her husband Steve, all of Ardmore. A sister Billie Simmons and her husband Gary, of Ardmore. A sister-in-law Gayle Cummings, of Ardmore. Seven grandchildren: Brandon Martin and his wife Lindsey, of Norman, Chase Martin and his fiancée Kaitlyn Solley, of Lone Grove, Jeffrey Craighead and his wife Amy, of Norman, Megan Engels and her husband Chris, of Frisco, Texas, Whitney Buck and her husband Dylan, of Ardmore, Kyle Craighead of Ardmore and  Hailey Guadarrama and her husband Franco, of Ardmore. Eight great-grandchildren: Blake and Marin Martin, Hudson and Mason Buck, Bradley and Emma Engels, Thomas Craig Guadarrama and Scottie Craighead. Also surviving Tommy are a host of nieces and nephews and cousins as well as a very special companion, Charlette Patzkowsky, of Ardmore.
He was preceded in death by his parents Newell and Blanche Craighead, his sister Bonnie Hammett, and by his wife of 62 years Billye Joy Craighead.
Tommy’s wish was for memorials be given to Cross Timbers Hospice, 207 “C” Street NW. Ardmore or the Mercy Health Foundation, 1011 14th Ave. NW, Ardmore, Ok. 73401
Online condolences can be made at craddockfuneralhome.com