Not Shy, But Retiring: AFC’s Doris Craig Retires
By Stephen Winick
I n January, 2008, Doris Craig retired from the Library of Congress after thirty-two years of service. For more than thirty of those years, she worked as the administrative assistant in the Ameri- can Folklife Center. At the time of her retirement, Doris had worked at AFC for longer than anyone else in the Center’s history. She played a role in a great many of the Center’s accomplishments, including its permanent authorization by the Congress.
During her time at AFC, Doris had many responsibilities. In particular, she helped organize the meetings of the AFC Board of Trustees, and kept the Trustees apprised of AFC activities throughout the year. She kept AFC current with supplies and equipment, and was in charge of vital office functions internal to the Library, including time and atten- dance and emergency preparedness. Doris was a passionate advocate for the Combined Federal Campaign, an annual philanthropy drive, and coordinated AFC’s participation for many years.
Carl Fleischhauer, a member of AFC’s original staff in 1976, congratulated Doris and thanked her for her “genuine participation in the work of the Center.” He explained, “when we were working in Nevada from 1978 to1982, Doris willingly transcribed my lengthy field- notes from trips to Paradise Valley cattle ranches, for which I was very grate- ful.” Fleischhauer continued, “She was always nurturing and helpful to the staff (some of whom she called her ‘children’) and to the members of the Center’s Board of Trustees.”
Many staff members agreed with Fleis- chhauer’s sentiments. On January 16, at a retirement party for Doris in room LJ
Doris Craig at AFC in the early 1980s
119 of the Library’s Thomas Jefferson Building, David Taylor read a letter to Do- ris from AFC director Peggy Bulger, who was on medical leave. Bulger wrote, in part: “I especially want to thank you for your warm and friendly personality, and a caring attitude that embraced us all.” Paula Johnson, another member of the Center’s original staff in 1976, said her special recollection was of Doris’s laugh: “it was really welcoming and a signa- ture of the Center’s work environment.” Johnson has worked elsewhere, and said that she has “not found that spirit and warmth anywhere else.” Current colleagues at AFC agreed as well, calling Doris “loving, self-reliant, friendly, indus- trious, humorous, generous, efficient and wise.”
Peter Bartis, who, like Doris, has served on the AFC staff for over thirty years, had more kind words for his old friend. “I spent more than half of my life with Doris,” he remembered. “We were
AFC staff photo file
like brother and sister, confiding and complaining to each other, growing and finishing our educations and buying our houses, all while she raised her three boys.”
It isn’t only at AFC that people know and love Doris; she spent years build- ing friendships throughout the Library of Congress. For Doris’s Folklife Center colleagues, just walking with her from the Jefferson Building to the James Madison Building was always a learning experience. Doris introduced them to colleagues in every conceivable office, and in the underground tunnel that connects the two buildings. It became accepted wisdom at AFC that Doris knew everyone in the Library. Not surprisingly, then, Doris’s retirement party brought a large number of friends from all over the Library to the Jefferson Building. The room was decorated in tropical style for the theme “Cruise Along with Doris.” Doris herself gamely donned a grass skirt, paper lei, and coconut-shell bikini top, as well-wishers made speeches and presented gifts.
In the weeks leading up to her retire- ment, praise for Doris came from all lev- els of the Library, including the Librarian of Congress, James H. Billington. “Dur- ing my time as Librarian of Congress, one thing that has become clear to me is the dedication and long years of service that are typical of Library staff mem- bers,” Dr. Billington said, addressing the AFC Board of Trustees. “In this regard, I would like to thank a long-serving mem- ber of the American Folklife Center staff. Doris Craig has faithfully served the American Folklife Center since 1977.... Congratulations and many thanks to Doris Craig.” m