Craig R. Nelson, Sr. was born on August 31, 1947, in New Orleans, Louisiana, to Charles Nelson, Jr. of New Orleans, LA. and Rosalie Milas of Bridgeport, CT. When he was three years old, he accompanied his parents to take up residence in Stratford, CT. He attended the Stratford Schools, graduating from Stratford High School in 1965. He attended the University of Bridgeport, graduating with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology in June, 1969. On July 4, 1969, he married Virginia Ondecko. He returned to UB as full-time graduate assistant and graduated with a Master of Arts Degree in Sociology in September, 1970. He began teaching Middle School Math and Science in Bridgeport while returning again to UB part-time to pursue studies in Elementary Education. He graduated with a Master of Science Degree in Elementary Education in December, 1972. Craig and Virginia have three children, Craig, Jr. (1973), Laura (1975), Eric (1977), and four grandchildren. In 1974, he began teaching elementary school in Stratford and remained there for thirty-four years until his retirement in June, 2008. From 2008 until 2013, he was an Adjunct Instructor of Mathematics at Housatonic Community College in Bridgeport, CT. During his teaching years, Craig supplemented his teacher salary with many various part-time jobs. He operated a Financial Services Business from 1984 until 2020. He is also Co-owner with Virginia of C&V Nelson Properties, LLC, a real estate rental properties business, from 2007 until present.
Craig was raised as a Master Mason in Ansantawae Lodge No. 89 in Milford, CT., on December 4, 1981, where he serves as Historian and as a member of the degree team. He became a Royal Arch Mason in Milford Chapter No. 49 on February 8, 1983, and a Select Master in Adam Sattig Council in Milford on May 3, 1983. He was knighted in Hamilton Commandery No. 5 in Bridgeport, CT., on November 11, 1983. He entered the officer line and rose to the rank of Junior Warden. He resigned from that office and did not attend another Masonic function for the next twenty years. He retained his membership in the three bodies, but spent those years working three jobs and helping to raise his children. He returned to Masonry and was re-appointed to the officer line in Hamilton Commandery as Warder. He was elected as Commander in 2012 and served in that office for three years. He became Prelate in 2015 and serves in that office, along with being a trustee, at the present time. He was appointed to the Grand Commandery officer line by Right Eminent Past Grand Commander Stuart Drost and in 2018 he was honored by being made Knight Commander of the Temple.
Craig was elected High Priest of Milford Chapter No. 49 in 2017, and after a merger, served as High Priest of the new Housatonic Chapter No. 13 from 2017 until 2019, where he presently serves as High Priest again. In 2020, he received the Ephraim Kirby Citation. He was elected Thrice Illustrious Master of Paugussett Council No. 16 in 2019, and served in that capacity until 2021. He now serves as Illustrious Companion Principal Conductor.
Craig belongs to the Knight Crusaders of the Cross; Pyramid Temple No. 9 AANOMS, where he is Chaplain of the Legion of Honor; Valley of Bridgeport AASR; Holy Royal Arch Knight Templar Priests, where he presently serves as the 4th Pillar; Order of Anointed High Priests in Royal Arch Masonry; Red Cross of Constantine, where he presently serves as Herald; Council of Anointed Kings, where he presently serves as Sentinel; York Right Sovereign College; Dusis Society, where he presently serves as Vice President; and Twilight Club, where he presently serves as Marshal.
When he is completely retired at the end of this year, Craig plans on traveling with Virginia, whom he thanks for supporting him in all his endeavors all of these years.