The Honorable Craig J. La Bree, 63, of Hobbs, NM, passed away May 30, 2020, at his residence. He was born in Washington D.C on December 3, 1956, to parents Jack and Michelle La Bree.
Craig is preceded in death by his father John E. La Bree. He is survived by his mother Michelle V. La Bree, wife Rita M. La Bree, daughter Jennifer Meister (Bella Vista, AR), son Nathaniel Riley (Lubbock, TX), and grandchildren Chloe, Pearl, and Opal.
Craig was a Father, an Eagle Scout, a Lawyer, and a Judge. When he was 14 years old, he started a lawn mowing business to earn money for college. After graduating from high school in his hometown of McLean, VA, Craig attended George Mason University. Throughout his time at GMU, he continued his lawn mowing business, employing up to 8 students at one point. It was during this time that his lifelong fascination with computing began, leading him to found the Computer Science program at GMU. Craig earned his Bachelor of Science Degree in Business Administration in the spring of 1978.
Craig was no stranger to hard work. Following his graduation from GMU, he worked construction to earn money for law school. That fall, he began his studies at Pepperdine University School of Law in Malibu, CA. He completed his Juris Doctor Degree in the Spring of 1981. After law school, he moved to New Mexico, where he worked as an associative attorney at Williams, Johnson, Reagan, Porter & Love, P.A. From 1982 to 1985, he gained further legal experience while working for Robert L. Love and Associates. Beginning in 1985, he started the joint practice Hanna & La Bree, P.C. In 2000 he started Craig J. La Bree P.C., which he operated until 2011 when Governor Susana Martinez appointed him to fill a vacant seat for Magistrate Judge in Hobbs, NM. During his first bid for re-election in 2012, Craig walked to every home in his district, leaving notes and speaking with his constituents. He did this once again in 2016, where he won in a landslide election.
Craig's education and career played a large part in his life, but they are not what made him a great man, that was his love for family and life. Craig married the love of his life on June 5, 1994, and embraced Jennifer and Nathaniel as his children. Craig shared his love for travel and scuba diving with his wife Rita, traveling all over the world, visiting places from the Great Barrier Reef to France. Craig's adventurous spirit extended to all aspects of his life. He was an avid reader of Science Fiction, a love that he passed on to Nathaniel. Craig had a curious mind and was often found watching videos of how things worked. He loved everything related to space and rarely missed a SpaceX rocket launch.
Craig rarely sat still. He spent his free time working on his house or helping family, friends, neighbors, and co-workers with anything they needed. He never believed in doing anything in half measures, often saying to not to "half-ass" a task. When anyone needed help or advice, they knew he would not only help but provide them with skills and knowledge. Craig believed in leaving the world a better place, a belief he practiced every day of his life. He had faith in his community and family, and it will be a struggle to learn to live without this Giant in our lives.
In lieu of flowers the family requests donations be made to Option, Inc. 200 N. Dalmont St. Hobbs, NM 88240.