January 30, 2002
Director of Media Relations

AMHERST, Mass.—G. Armour Craig, a former professor of English and acting president of Amherst College, died Tuesday, January 29, after a long illness, in Hanover, N.H., where he had retired. He was 87 years old. Craig was born in 1914 in Cleveland, Ohio, where he attended the Hawken School. A Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Amherst in 1937, Craig received M.A. (1938) and Ph.D. (1947) degrees in English from Harvard University.

When Craig retired from teaching at Amherst in 1985, he had served on the faculty at the college for 45 years. Near the end of that distinguished service, in 1983, Craig became acting president of Amherst following the death of Julian H. Gibbs. He ably led the college for 15 months and oversaw, among other achievements, a relatively peaceful abolition of campus fraternities.

Along with the late Theodore Baird, Craig was instrumental in promoting and sustaining the famous, required freshman composition course at Amherst for many years. He was an exacting teacher. When he was one of six teachers honored at the White House in 1980, his former student, the poet Richard Wilbur (Amherst College Class of 1942), said Craig had taught him “not only to be fiercely attentive to texts, but also to watch what we said and wrote.... Armour Craig was forever asking the embarrassing question, ‘What do you mean?’”

The service in New Hampshire will be private. Craig’s wife, Margaret Ball Craig, died in 1996. He is survived by his daughter Sara Margaret Ballantine of Hanover, N.H.; his son James Ball Craig of Albequerque, N.M.; and several grandchildren.