Deborah Merlin Craig will represent Picayune in the Ms. Senior MS Pageant
Published 9:38 am Monday, June 30, 2014
The Ms. Senior Mississippi pageant is an event for women over the age of 60, who have reached “an age of elegance” and will take place on July 12, 2014 at the Jackson Hilton Hotel Penthouse in Jackson, MS.
Picayune is proud to have Deborah Merlin Craig representing our city in the event. Never having been in a pageant before, Debbie was a little hesitant at first; however, she decided it would be a great opportunity to meet and make friends with other ladies from our great Hospitality State. Debbie has been excitedly working on her talent performance of “Almost There”, a New Orleans style jazz song from the Disney film, The Princess and the Frog. She will be adapting the lyrics of the song to ones expressing a joie de vivre; enjoying this age in life and feeling younger every day!
Deborah will be performing her talent presentation at Open Mic night this Friday evening, June 27, at 6:00 p.m., at Sweet Serenity Café’. For more information on the pageant, visit SeniorAmerica.org.
Deborah Merlin Craig wears many hats, while emitting the grace and beauty, which comes from time spent living life to the fullest. Debbie puts her whole heart into every endeavor, and has successfully juggled the life roles of wife, mother, and teacher, along with numerous other intriguing activities.
As it goes with life, Debbie’s has not been without its challenges. Debbie is a breast cancer survivor, and attributes her faith in Christ as the anchor holding her steady during life’s storms.
Every story has a beginning, and Debbie’s began in Boston, Massachusetts.
Audrey and Everett Merlin welcomed a little blonde-haired beauty into their growing family.
Debbie’s earliest memories are of this multi-generational working class family. Thelma Tanguay Burke, Debbie’s maternal grandmother, was of French Canadian ancestry and taught Debbie the beautiful French language.
Debbie attended and graduated from Catholic High School and earned her BA in Speech and Drama with a minor in secondary education and English from Elms College, a small woman’s Catholic College. Debbie stated, “I absolutely loved my time spent at Elms. My sophomore year I studied at Loyola University in Montreal, Canada. This was also a wonderful experience and helped me to become fluent in French.”
After graduation Craig was excitedly planning to spend one year teaching English, speech and drama at St. Croix Central High School in the U.S, Virgin Islands. She had been accepted to the American Academy of Dramatic Arts’ evening school in New York and intended to work as a secretary while attending acting classes in the evening.
This all changed when Debbie met Curtis, a process engineer for Martin Marietta Alumina of St. Croix (the largest of the U.S. Virgin Islands). Curtis had arrived to the island the summer of 1975 after his graduation from New Mexico State University. Debbie and Curtis became engaged in 1977 and were married in January of 1979 on Cape Cod.
The Craigs spent five unforgettable years together on St. Croix. They worked at their prospective jobs and shopped for hand carved island art to decorate their first home as a couple. There was plenty of time to play together and play they did. They bought their first sailboat, a 22-foot sloop, and became passionate about sailing.
Most weekends the happy couple could be found sailing away on the Novel, heading for Buck Island. They tasted the salty spray and laughed into the wind while basking in the beautiful Caribbean sun. Debbie was active in the local theatre group, the Courtyard players of St. Croix, and played the lead role of Eleanor in “Remembrance” by Pulitzer-prize winning poet Derek Walcott. The play toured neighboring islands throughout the Caribbean.
In 1980 Curtis was asked to work for the facilities division at NASA Michoud in New Orleans. Thus, the Craigs moved to Slidell, LA and Debbie began teaching in St. Tammany Parish.
In 1984 the much-anticipated arrival of Ashley, the first of the Craig’s two children found Debbie with a decision to make concerning her career and Debbie chose to stay at home with her daughter. In 1986 the second of the Craig children, Alex, arrived making their family complete.
Debbie has enjoyed teaching, acting, church, and civic work, but her crowning achievement is raising two very wonderful children to adulthood.
After spending six precious years at home, Debbie returned to the classroom in Slidell in 1991. In 1993 another dream came to fruition. Curtis and Debbie designed and contracted the lovely home on Hideaway Lake where they live today.
Debbie began teaching at Pearl River Central High School in 1993 where she founded the varsity drama troupe, the Blue Maskers. Deborah worked diligently for 20 years teaching English, speech, and theatre. She directed two plays per year at both competitions and at school. In 2003, Deborah wrote an original one-act play for the Blue Maskers called “Orphan Trains” which received runner-up up in the MS high school Thespian conference. In 2007, it was published by Playscripts, Inc. of New York. Since that time it has been produced by over 70 schools and theatres in the USA, UK, and Australia.
Deborah has written several plays and a children’s book. She has directed over 50 high school, children’s, and community theatre plays. She received her M.Ed. from William Carey University in 2008. While her accomplishments may be too numerable to mention, there is one that will truly touch your heart.
Deborah saw to it that economic hardship never caused one student to miss out on the fun and opportunities of participating in the Blue Maskers Troupe. She worked tirelessly raising funds so every student, who was eligible and had a desire, could participate.
Many students have learned confidence, poise, and the positive effects of hard work and determination from Deborah Merlin Craig. Debbie retired in 2013 and is thrilled to be acting again. She recently played Lillibelle in Girls of the Garden Club, and Sister Maria in Seven Nuns in Los Vegas, both Picayune on Stage productions.
By Jan Penton Miller