From the beginning, Roy P. Craig was in a different world. Craig left the family dairy farm on the Florida Mesa south of Durango as a young man to study physical science. Later, he became part of the country's largest flying-saucer study.
By Brittany Anas
Special to The Denver Post
From the beginning, Roy P. Craig was in a different world.
Craig left the family dairy farm on the Florida Mesa south of Durango as a young man to study physical science. Later, he became part of the country's largest flying-saucer study.
The lover of unidentified flying objects and a leading researcher into their existence died Thursday at his La Boca Ranch, south of Ignacio, after struggling with cancer. Craig was 79.
"He had a belief that there definitely had to be other life in the universe" said Philip Craig, his nephew. "He believed there had to be because of the size and vastness of the universe. But he just couldn't verify the evidence that UFOs had visited here"
As a science professor at the University of Colorado at Boulder, Roy Craig was selected to serve as the chief field investigator of The Colorado Project, a federally funded scientific investigation into the existence of unidentified flying objects.
The investigation in the late 1960s was led by physicist Edward Condon, and the results of its findings later became known as the Condon Report.
A team of more than 30 investigators, including university professors, psychologists and scientists from private laboratories, looked into thousands of UFO reports and interviewed witnesses.
Although none of the pieces of evidence or personal accounts that the team collected were backed scientifically, Craig kept his mind open, relatives said.
"As a scientist, he left it open to the minds of other people to determine their existence" said Gayle Voss Button, a niece of Roy Craig.
Following his work on the Condon project, Craig wrote a book about his role in the investigation, "UFOs: An Insider's View of the Official Quest for Evidence"
Voss Button said that her uncle also wrote and recorded a playful, snappy jingle about UFOs that he liked to perform for "anybody that would listen"
"The UFO" as it was titled, featured whooshes and ping sounds in the background, she said.
Voss Button said that a friend of her uncle would often sing the ditty while Craig played the dulcimer in the background.
A sample of the song's verse includes:
"A sailing o'er Kentucky/ I pause and spurt along./ I'm filled with gay malarkey/ As I sing the UFO song./ Beep beep beep beep beep (many more beeps follow)"
Craig donated boxes of field evidence and his findings to Texas A&M University in September, according to The Associated Press.
At the time, he told the Durango Herald that reports of UFOs have changed popular culture. "It's got people out of the rut of thinking the whole universe was created for man" Craig said.
Philip Craig described his uncle as worldly and remembers looking forward to his visits.
"He was the only one that left the dairy farm" Philip Craig said. "He would always bring back science projects for us to do and take us on recreational trips. He showed us how to enjoy life"
When Roy Craig returned to the Durango area from Boulder, he moved to a 186-acre ranch that had a river running through it and was a former Indian trading post.
Voss Button said that her uncle loved llamas and left behind more than 60 on his ranch. She said he also had two peacocks that he enjoyed.
Roy Craig earned a doctorate in physical chemistry from Iowa State University and later taught physical science at CU-Boulder. He also worked for the Rocky Flats nuclear weapons plant northwest of Denver.
There will be a memorial service April 25 at La Boca Ranch.