“And that’s the ball game folks.” William Richard Craven, known to most as Bill, ended his final season of life on July 9, 2023 at home. His career started on July 27, 1957 where he made his first at bat with the help of his two coaches and parents, Paul Richard Craven (Dick) and Margerie Ann Craven (Marge). His superstar sister, Brook Allison Craven (now Nesbit) thought he would be more of a whiff, but eventually she saw he was a slugger.
Bill was a dedicated fan of many things: his Long Beach roots, music, sports, business, and his friends. The house where he passed away was the clubhouse for many of his family members prior to him.
He was an avid Long Beach resident and fan, through and through. He spent his rookie years at Gant Elementary, then he moved to the AAs at Stanford Junior High, and advanced his career playing AAA at Millikan High School. Along the way, he was a part of the farm teams Los Altos Little League and Plaza Little League, where this southpaw was known for his switch hitting. Then he was drafted to the Major Leagues, first going to Long Beach City College and then getting his Economics degree at Cal State Long Beach while warming the bench as a Dirtbag fan. Many of his current teammates/friends can be traced to those schools or the neighborhoods where he lived. Like coach Marge (aka mom), Bill was proud to be a diehard Long Beach native.
Bill was the MVP of tuba players. In the minor leagues he was chosen to be in a Junior Concert Band, cementing another life long passion. He put the mustard on when he played lead tuba in the Civil War Band (Band of the California Battalion). He is in the Tuba Hall of Fame, playing for Long Beach City College Viking Band, 49er Marching Band, and even Tuba Christmas! He was so good at the tuba that nobody dared to let his harmonious voice be heard (and if you knew Bill, you would know this is not true and that he would applaud the sarcasm).
In addition to dry humor, Bill loved all sports. He ran track and cross country in high school where he earned the name Crazy Legs, played softball for a number of years, and was a staunch supporter of the Angels and of course the Long Beach 49ers (not those other 49ers).
When he got tired of the GM of his work team, Bill went from player to manager and then owner. Always an avid sports fan and fan of tradition, what else could Bill name his business other than his high school nickname of Crazy Legs? Bill hit the sweet spot, delivering multiple products to grocery stores across Southern California with his independent distribution company.
Crazy may also describe how dedicated he was to the people he placed his bets on. Bill would take in those who needed help or caring, like his many cats…that he was allergic to. He would hit a sacrifice bunt to help advance his friends, who he valued even more than the cats. While he had a biting tongue, he had a heart of gold.
Bill loved his traditions. From tending to vegetables and lemons he would never eat to hosting the day before Thanksgiving poker game, Bill knew what he loved and rarely strayed from it. He religiously watched the stock market, often commentating on his home runs of trades or his strikeouts. His original hedged bet of Tootsie Roll was a grand slam that paid off in dividends. He worked the count and always loved coaching those on their stock choices or their sports choices.
His line up was full of supportive people: from Brook to Richard to Russ to Rob to Peter to Tom to Conny to Adon to Gary and to so many more, he was the loyalist of friends, teammates, and fans. When he was put on the disabled list, he drafted many friends to help pinch hit for him, but eventually Elmer came up for the assist. After contracting Covid, Bill was behind in the count but eventually got to home plate. He ended his career not in the hospital, but in the house that meant so much to him and his family.
It’s time to close the book on Bill Craven and close the book on this side of the Craven line. His family, friends, and all those who knew him will miss him. Bill will forever be remembered as a sharp-tongued, soft-hearted person who knew what he liked and liked what he knew.
Obituary written by Bill’s niece, Elizabeth Taireh. Edited by nephew Paul Nesbit and brother-in-law Glenn Nesbit.
Photo Album: https://bit.ly/BillCraven
Graveside Services will be held on July 27, 2023 at 9:30 AM at Forest Lawn Long Beach. There will be a Celebration of Life immediately following (11:00 AM to 2:00 PM) at Ballast Point Brewery in Long Beach (110 N. Marina Dr. Long Beach 90803).
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in Bill’s memory to support the Band of the California Battalion (Civil War Band) at LBCC. Go to https://www.lbcc.edu/pod/makeagift. Checks can also be written to Long Beach City College Foundation and mailed to 4901 E. Carson Street, B-12 Long Beach, CA 90808. Please note that your donation is “In Memory of William Richard Craven”. Your donation is tax deductible.
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