Charles & Phil Craighead

The following is one of several Collegeside member profiles written by Donna Smith over a period of several years. They tell the personal stories of some of our long-time members, some of whom are living and some of whom have gone on to be with their Lord. Their personal stories are an important part of the historical fabric of Collegeside.

You probably don’t realize that a crying toddler led to the first addition to the still-new Collegeside Church building. That toddler was Phil Craighead on his first visit to Collegeside, and he was crying and protesting because he wanted to go to Bible class. Bob Lee Maddux, who was trying to teach an adult class in spite of the crying, agreed. So, Bob Lee Maddux began the annex to give the growing church more space, especially for children’s classes.

That was 50 years ago this week.

Charles and Phil Craighead can scarcely believe they have been part of Collegeside that long. Their Dad, Deurelle, moved his wife and four boys to Cookeville on July 4, 1955, when he was transferred from Athens, Tennessee, in his work with the Internal Revenue Service.

Charles was 12 years old, and his baby brother Phil was 18 months old when they moved. The brothers have good memories and many stories about growing up at Collegeside.

Some of the memories involve the annex that gave more space to the growing church. It became the meeting place for the Christian Student Group, which is where Charles met his wife. He remembers that Ava, a student from Lynchburg, was with another guy. Charles says he hated that guy because he wanted to be the one to date Ava. Charles won her hand, and the two were married at Collegeside in 1965. They have three children and two grandchildren.

Charles and Ava remember the closeness of the Christian Student Group. Ava says the members seldom actually had dates, instead opting to go everywhere as a group, especially since most students didn’t have cars on campus.

Phil also met his future wife at Collegeside. He and Janet began their courtship at the Collegeside annual fall picnic on the front lawn. Even though the two had been in classes together at TTU, they didn’t particularly know each other. Janet’s Aunt Inez Mytinger made sure they were properly introduced at the picnic. Phil and Janet were married at Collegeside in 1984, and they are raising their daughters, Rachel and Emily, here.

Another memory of Collegeside is one the Craigheads keep alive, and it involves a piece of carpet. When the church was replacing its worn and faded carpet, Charles asked for permission to keep a part of the original. He cut out the front section, the part he and Ava as well as Phil and Janet had stood on when they were married. That carpet has been rolled out for many weddings over the years. All three of Charles and Ava’s children were married standing on that carpet. The piece has traveled to places such as Washington state, Texas, and even Germany to bring a bit of Collegeside to special celebrations for people with good memories of their time here.

The brothers also have great memories of their parents, now deceased, whom they describe as “real good people.” Their father, Deurelle, served Collegeside many years as an elder. The boys remember seeing their dad up late many nights worrying, praying and reading his Bible, but he didn’t talk about church problems. According to Phil, their father wanted them to have “a good brain but one with a hole straight through it.” That hole would insure that any gossip they heard would go in one ear and straight out the other. Their mother, Mildred, was a familiar face on the TTU campus in her role as secretary to the Dean of Women, Elizabeth Murphy.

Charles and Phil have lived in Cookeville most of these past 50 years. Charles, retired from Tutco, now works as a controller at iLight Technologies, and Ava is a homemaker. Phil has been a music teacher for 30 years in Putnam County Schools, and Janet has worked in public education for 27 years in Middle Tennessee.

If you want to hear more stories, you might try asking Charles about Shinny Ninny—if you have been around TTU long enough to know the legend.