Geri Ellzey Craig passed away on April 10, 2020 at her home in Montgomery, Alabama. She was 79. Geri was born in Laurel, Mississippi on March 4, 1941, and grew up in Selma, Alabama, where she graduated from Albert G. Parrish High School. Geri was a finalist in the 1959 and 1960 Miss Alabama pageants, earning a scholarship to Northwestern University. Geri also was a finalist in the 1960 Maid of Cotton pageant. She attended Birmingham Southern College where she was a member of Alpha Omicron Pi sorority and would go on to study voice at Judson college and Samford University.
Geri was a well-known singer, entertainer and motivational speaker. For 13 years she was the anchor for a talk show produced on WSLA television in Selma, Alabama. She also became a successful author of two books. She was devoted to many causes in her life, especially ensuring better mental health care for Alabamians. She served on several boards, including the state board reviewing mental health care, to which she was appointed by Governor Fob James. Throughout her life, Geri was a supporter of Alabama creative artists and writers and for the preservation of Selma’s historic district.
In 1989, Geri and her husband, Rufus H. Craig moved to Montgomery. They became members of the First United Methodist Church, its cathedral choir and the Seekers Sunday School class.
In Montgomery, Geri became a member of the Francis Marion chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR), serving two terms as Regent. She also became a member of the National Society of Colonial Dames and the Daughters of the American Colonists. Geri authored two short stories which won state and national awards for the DAR. A third story won a national award for Literature – Short Story.
Geri was preceded in death by her father, Barney Byron Purvis, Sr.; mother, Kathleen Purvis Walters; first husband, Billy Butler Ellzey; sister, Barbara Jean Purvis; brother, John H. Purvis and stepson, Dr. James S. Craig (LouAnn).
She is survived by her husband of thirty-five years, Rufus Hagood Craig; her sons, William Baxter Ellzey (Rebecca) and Robert Earl Ellzey, II; her stepson, William Benjamin Craig, IV (Laura); her grandchildren, William Evan Craig, Hannah Ruth Craig, Jackson Walker Craig and Robert Earl Ellzey, III, as well as by her sister, Ginger Purvis; her brother, Barney Byron Purvis, Jr. (Sandra); her nephews, B. Byron Purvis, III (Jessica) and T. Brannon Buris and great-nephew, James Worthington Purvis.
The family offers deep gratitude to Answered Prayer Home Care and especially to Tenika Lane, who helped Geri through the last months of her life, as well as the Hospice of Montgomery for their merciful care during her last days.
A private burial will be held on Monday, April 13th with a Memorial Celebration to be announced at a future date. She will be laid to rest at New Live Oak Cemetery in Selma, Alabama with Rev. Ben McDavid officiating and Lawrence Brown-Service Funeral Home directing.
In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to First United Methodist Church – Montgomery, Alabama, the Stegall Seminary Scholarship Endowment Foundation, or to the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research.
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