Posted on: September 17, 2019
For Joseph Craig Merrell, life was all about family. That’s because he believed that every man, woman, and child walking this beautiful earth is a son or daughter of God. So when he met you, he believed, firmly, deeply, in his giant heart, that you were his brother or sister. You were family; and Craig loved his family.
In 1950, he arrived as the second son of John Yeates and Marjorie Merrell. With his three siblings, John Jr., Karen, and David, Craig thrived in their happy home in Arlington, Virginia. As a young man, two major decisions changed the course of his life. First, while recovering from back surgery, he decided to become a doctor. Second, he answered the call to share the gospel of Jesus Christ in the French-Swiss Mission of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He served a mission as a young man in the Swiss Geneva Mission, and later as mission president for the France Toulouse Mission. On his mission, Craig developed a passion for working with God to heal broken hearts and wounded souls.
While studying medicine at the University of Virginia, Craig was set up on a blind date with Teresa Ann Johnson. They were married on March 6, 1976 and together they raised eight children. Love, music, and faith filled their home.
Through his work as a plastic and reconstructive surgeon, he was a beloved member of the Tidewater, Va., community. He considered his patients as part of his extended family and helping them brought him immeasurable joy. Through his work with Operation Smile, his healing touch extended around the world. He was beloved by his family, friends, colleagues, patients, and community.
Craig was a faithful follower of Jesus Christ and influenced the lives of thousands through his ministry whether he was teaching two-year-olds or leading congregations. He was looking forward to retiring this coming year and taking up a full-time grandfathering position on a quiet farm in the mountains.