January 12, 1935—November 5, 2020
Colorado Springs, Colorado – James Berry Craddock of Colorado Springs, CO, went on to the great Pheasant Hunt in the sky on November 5, 2020. He was born on January 12, 1935 in Pueblo, CO, the son of Luther Ned and Margaret Isabelle (Berry) Craddock. Berry was preceded in death by his loving wife, Linda; his mother; his father; his stepfather, Roy; and his sister, Kay. Berry’s life, family, and spirit are a testament to the American dream, fortitude, drive, work ethic, humor, and full enjoyment of all this life offered.
When Berry was five years old, he skinned his knee playing outside and developed Osteomyelitis. Saved by a “new drug”, penicillin, Berry went through several surgeries that gave him his famous gait. Despite having to learn to walk again, Berry never let his disability define or hinder him in any way. When his father passed, Berry was just eight years old, and he moved with his mother and sisters to Pueblo, and then on to Lake Tahoe. It was there and in Canon City that he developed a love of the outdoors, especially fishing and hunting. Many times, the success of his hunts fed their family. In Tahoe, Berry became an accomplished skier, racing the slalom and the downhill. He learned to fly-fish during the summers there. He loved to sing as his mother played piano. Gifted with an outstanding voice, he sang for Harry S. Truman on his whistle stop tour.
As a youth he was a perennial rascal who loved to play pranks on his siblings. He was also a risk-taker, rafting down the Royal Gorge on a one-man raft and earning both his first appearance in the local paper and a scolding from his mother. Berry graduated from Canon City High School, where he played basketball, wrestled, and was active in theater, music, and Young Life. While still in high school, he got a job at Ideal Cement Company in Florence, CO, as a mix chemist. It was this work that would inspire his later professional pursuits. After high school, Berry attended the University of Colorado, graduating in Civil Engineering and Business Management. He was a Phi Kappa Tau with another Colorado icon, Jim Berger, who later would introduce Berry to the Colorado Springs real estate community. After college, he worked designing warehouses at Welbourne Construction Company. It was at Welbourne, where Berry pioneered twin tee construction and designed what would become known throughout Colorado and New Mexico as “The Craddock Building”.
During a night out with a friend at the Lemon Tree Lounge, Berry met the love of his life, and wife to be, Linda Jannine Wilson. The first time he saw Linda he exclaimed to his friend, “I am going to marry that girl!” Two years later, on June 24, 1967, that dream came to fruition when she and Berry were married at the Redstone Castle, in Redstone, CO. They were married for 52 years.
Berry and Linda moved to Colorado Springs in 1967, as Berry started Craddock Development Company and they raised their sons: Matthew, James, and Michael. While Linda was an active volunteer and mother, Berry dedicated his life to professional excellence in business. Berry came to Colorado Springs with $5,000 and a vision. He built his first building, 705 Nichols Blvd., and leased it to Moore & Moore Moving and Storage. The family re-purchased this property in 2016 to honor his legacy. Berry was not alone in building his business from the ground up. Along with his father-in-law Mitt Wilson, Jack and Bob Mason, Gary Reifschneider, Nadine Kelley, Otis Ford, Mike Mallinger, and architect Bob Davis, Berry built a real estate empire that lasts to this day. In his 53-year career, Berry was blessed with amazing employees and business associates too numerous to mention. It goes without saying, he appreciated you all.
Berry constructed over 300 buildings in his career, from hotels, to restaurants, warehouses, offices, and self-storages. In the ‘80s he owned a media company, Pikes Peak Ski area, and even a potato farm. A brief drive down Garden of the Gods Road features many properties that he built as Colorado Springs grew. Berry was a fierce advocate of the Pikes Peak Region and was instrumental in bringing many companies to Colorado Springs, including MCI, Honeywell, and Hewlett Packard. He was also fiercely loyal to Land Title Guarantee, having announced his engagement to Linda at the opening of Land Title’s first office. His career took many twists and turns, as is common in real estate development. Through it all, he always kept a great spirit, a dedication to his staff, his partners, his tenants, and a gratitude for those he worked with in his field. He was a proud Realtor and Exchanger, carrying his license to the end.
Berry had a wonderful sense of humor and was an outstanding joke teller. He frequented many local watering holes and enjoyed the camaraderie of fellow patrons. Berry was active on the Vail Valley Foundation. It was in Vail where he developed lasting friendships with former President Gerald Ford, Senator Jack Kemp, and Clint Eastwood. Berry found great joy in deep friendships and was blessed with many wonderful friends. He would want them to know how much he loved and cared for them. He was an active member of the Broadmoor Golf Club, the El Paso Club, and the Garden of the Gods Club. He loved to golf with friends both here and in Arizona, always capping the round with his signature glass of Chardonnay. Berry was an accomplished chef and was celebrated for his signature Caesar Salad. He loved to fish and entertain friends and family at Lake Uneva and to hunt with his band of brothers at the Sanborn Ranch Duck Club. He cherished his annual pheasant hunt to South Dakota and his loving dog, Cindy. Berry was blessed to travel with family, friends, and Linda throughout the world.
Berry was a bon vivant, larger than life and lived every moment. He had a great smile and laugh, always, even when times were tough. He was truly one of a kind. He treated everyone he met with dignity and respect. The family sends their deepest thanks and gratitude for the outpouring of love and support from the community. It is a testament to just how many lives he touched and how much he will be missed.
Berry often said that his biggest legacy was his three sons. He was fiercely proud of them and their accomplishments, their families, and their character. He was very proud to have a “family business”. Berry took the family on so many great adventures—rafting the Grand Canyon, diving the Wreck of the Roan, sailing in the Caribbean, helicopter flights in Hawaii, and wing-shooting in Argentina. Berry was able to make the annual pheasant hunt to South Dakota with the Colorado Springs SWAT Squad, where he once again was a crack shot and a great companion in the field and at cocktail hour.
For the last seven years, Berry lovingly cared for Linda as she struggled and passed this year with the neurological condition, PSP. He did his best to care for her with as much grace and dignity as this terrible condition allowed. Through this, Berry was blessed with the support of many loving caregivers for Linda. In his last days, the nursing staff and doctors cared for him with the utmost attention. The family expresses their deepest gratitude for their love, patience, dedication, and care. His sons were with him just prior to his passing, and his brother, Joe, held Berry’s hand as he passed. This was a great comfort to the family, as we were blessed to be with him to express our love, hug him, and say goodbye while he could still respond. If COVID-19 hadn’t taken him, the election of Joe Biden surely would have.
Berry is survived by his sons: Matthew Ryan (Jenny), Michael Lewis (Michelle), and James Berry (Amy); 10 grandchildren; 5 great-grandchildren; his brothers, Roy Rall and Joseph Rall; and sister, Mary Lou Kaiser.
Berry is memorialized along with his beloved wife, Linda, and other family members at the Shrine of Remembrance “America the Beautiful” rose gardens.
In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to the Vail Valley Foundation.
Berry Craddock left an incredible legacy and footprint on the Pikes Peak community he loved so dearly. The family will host a Celebration of Life for Berry this summer in Colorado Springs. There, we’ll toast a glass of Chardonnay and crack a bottle or two of rum to a fun, one-of-a-kind man, honoring an amazing and blessed life that was lived fully to the very end!