Craig John Gentry lived life BIG. He played big, from competing in state championships for his high school wrestling team and making national championships with Georgia Southern Football to playing big with the team that mattered to him most, his family. Craig made even the most mundane things into big fun and for family he delighted in planning his famous big surprises. He celebrated big, designing acres of paint ball fields for his wedding party to play all night before their overflowing church ceremony. He helped others celebrate big, filling his warehouse with big inflatables for his daughter, Abby Kay’s birthdays and his family living room with big Christmas gifts after big breakfasts. He traveled big, hiking much of the Appalachian Trail, planning every hour of a 4,000 mile road adventure out West with best friends and going across the world to spread the Gospel of Christ. Craig loved big, making every stranger he met a friend and every friend feel like a best friend. In his big life, it was always others that he was making feel big, whether they were jobless, struggling, or feeling left out or one of the celebrities he served at Catalyst.
Craig lived big without fear. He swam underwater in the darkest caves, spelunked through the narrowest passages, climbed up the tallest mountains, repelled down dangerous cliffs, skied black diamond slopes, raced competitively through the muddiest obstacles and Iron-Man courses, wrestled alligators in the swamp (literally) and parachuted from the sky. Craig lived more life by age 39 than most of us will in our lifetimes combined. He helped his Dad build houses at age 9, registered his first successful business, Soul Hiker, at age 16, chaired the Board of Deacons at his church in his 20s, served the Board of Directors for businesses and missions and inspired the e-commerce business community as a seasoned keynote speaker in his 30s. He mentored countless people often older than him through Starting Point Bible studies, Financial Peace seminars and his own experiences. Almost everyone in the community it seems has come to Craig for advice or to “fix it” (usually when we failed to take his advice the first time).
Ultimately, to know Craig was to know his love for Christ. His favorite Bible passage was Philippians 1:21, “For to me to live is Christ and to die is gain.” Many of us came to Christ and became more like Christ because of Craig’s witness. Please come celebrate his life with us and continue his ministry even through his death, to gain Christ.
Craig passed away Saturday, March 19th doing one of the big things that he loved, flying an airplane. He was born May 14th, 1982. Craig leaves behind a community that will never be the same without him. He is survived by his wife, Gretchen, who knows only how to serve and not be served; his daughter, Abby Kay, who needed exactly that Daddy for the big life she lives; his Mother and Father, John and Alice Gentry, whose stimulation and projects centered around his businesses; his sister, Ivy, who cannot imagine living her life without her brother that she considered her twin; his brother-in-law, Mike, for whom he was his only brother and without whom he could have never launched his own business; and eight nieces and nephews, Eli, Mallory, Will, Jack, Carly, Coltrane, Samuel and Hudson, with whom he constructed BIG sand castles, fought epic pillow fights, hosted the most fun game nights and for whom there will never be another Uncle Craig.
Visitation will be Thursday, March 24th at 1:00pm at Browns Bridge Church (3860 Browns Bridge Road, Cumming, GA) with the funeral service immediately following at 3:00pm. In lieu of flowers donations can be given in memory of Craig to Be Rich (berich.org) and Mission Hope (missionhope.org).