Craig Rucker, 56, outstanding cook and Children's Hospital aide

Posted: November 21, 2013

CRAIG CLIFFORD Rucker was one of those guys you couldn't help liking. He was naturally upbeat, smiling and happy, even when he became disabled and couldn't get around much anymore.

Craig suffered from diabetes and kidney disease that ultimately limited his movements. After a wait of three years, he was able to get into a Philadelphia Housing Authority house for the handicapped.

Even there, and dependent on a walker, he didn't let his condition defeat him. He couldn't work anymore, but he would put some flea-market-type items out front and sell them.

But his condition worsened and he died Sunday at age 56.

In his working days, Craig excelled as a cook. His last job was at Relish, formerly the Ogontz Inn, at 72nd Street and Ogontz Avenue. He also cooked at the Veterans of Foreign Wars post in Norristown, where he honed his skills preparing his acclaimed ribs, chicken, greens, macaroni and cheese and candied yams.

His meals for the family were much cherished. He would cook for the holidays and everybody was invited.

Earlier, he worked for Children's Hospital of Philadelphia as a welder, roofer and carpenter. He also served as a personal caregiver.

Craig was born in Philadelphia to Clifford Rucker and the former Hazel Brooks. He grew up in Germantown and West Oak Lane and attended Germantown High School.

"He was the kind of guy everyone liked, whether you were a congressman or a janitor," said his sister, DeBorah Ann Rucker. "He was always jovial and positive, always willing to help out."

In 1985, he married Rome Monique Davis, and they had a son, Jamel Ali Rucker. She had a son from a previous relationship, Malik Dohonna Scott, who became a heavyweight boxer.

Among Craig's greatest pleasures was traveling the country to watch Malik fight, including a recent bout in Reno, Nev.

Craig was also involved in community activities, and recently was added to the board of the Queen Lane Tenant Council.

At age 12, he joined the former St. Phillips Baptist Church. When the church split in the early '70s, he joined New Covenant Baptist Church, which closed in 2011. He then attended a number of churches in search of spiritual sustenance.

Craig was devoted to his son, Jamel, but also was fond of his nieces, whom he called "the Divas."

Besides his wife, sister and son, he is survived by his father, Clifford Rucker, and a brother, Kenneth Lee Rucker.

Services: 11 a.m. Friday at Bethel Deliverance Church, 2929 Cheltenham Ave. Friends may call at 9 a.m. Burial will be in Ivy Hill Cemetery.

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