She was born in Mildred, Missouri, the first of five children born to her father, C. Frank Rea and mother, Nellie Smith Rea.
Marybeth grew up in Branson, graduating from Branson High School. She then earned a Bachelors Degree from Kansas University in Music Education -- a degree which required a passing ability to play every instrument in an entire orchestra.
Her very first job was teaching Music, Band and Chorus at what was then The School of the Ozarks (later College of the Ozarks). It was there that she met a Senior student named James "Jimmey" Lee Craig. After his service in the military, and five years after they met at S of O, James Craig and Marybeth Rea were married in Branson. They celebrated their 45th wedding anniversary before James Craig's death in the year 2000.
Marybeth Rea Craig continued her teaching career in California, primarily with kindergarten children at Jordan School in Whittier, California, where she was honored with a State of California Outstanding Teacher of the Year Award for developing innovative curriculum using music as a teaching tool. After her retirement, she continued to work with children at the Palm Springs Christian Academy in California. She also played piano and organ for various churches and as accompanist for many public and private school performances.
After the death of her husband, Marybeth returned home to Branson where she was surrounded by a large and loving family. She was preceded in death by her sisters, Doris Marie Hager and Barbara Jean Rhodes and brother John C. Rea. She is survived by her youngest brother, Peter H. Rea as well as sixteen nieces and nephews and their children.
Marybeth and James Craig are survived by their two children, a son, James Kevin Craig and daughter, Amy Elizabeth Craig Slay. Marybeth and James Craig's much loved son-in-law, Charles Slay, husband of Amy, passed away December 4, 2013.
Graveside service will be held in the Spring of 2015 at Edwards Cemetery in Kirbyville, Missouri where the urns of both Marybeth Rea Craig and James Lee Craig are to be buried -- together, again.
In lieu of flowers, Marybeth Rea Craig would have much appreciated donations to her favorite charitable organization, Vine & Fig Tree, Inc., a Christian publishing and philanthropic organization that is the ministry of her son, Kevin, Founder of V&FT, Inc. (www.vineandfigtree.net) All donations are tax deductible.