Kirkland woman travels across country to find family
By RAECHEL DAWSON
Kirkland Reporter Reporter
September 12, 2012 · Updated 12:06 PM
Kirkland resident Marie Cragar was upset, when at 19, she learned her parents were her grandparents and her sister was her mother. But today, at 65, she couldn’t be more happy. Just a few weeks ago she flew across the country to meet her brothers and sisters for the very first time.
“It went well, and really, it was like we had never been apart,” Cragar said.
In 1946, Cragar’s mother and father met after World War II at a Seattle drive-in movie theatre. Her father had just gotten out of the Navy and they married six months later.
Shortly after, Cragar’s mother made the trip to Tucson, Ariz. - where her family was living - to give birth to Cragar.
“She was worried at how my father was acting at the time. It was after World War II and he had some issues to deal with,” Cragar said. “She left me there with my grandparents to come back to Seattle and work things out with my dad.”
But things never worked out and the two divorced in 1949. Her father moved to Kansas with his family. Her mother followed but it was too late, he had already reenlisted. Cragar’s grandparents thought it best to raise her as their own.
“My real name was on my birth certificate but I never used it,” Cragar said.
Cragar grew up with a different last name than her father’s surname, Wind, which made it very hard for her father to locate her. Not only was her last name different but Wind and his family knew her as “Madeline Marie” instead of “Marie Madeline.” He also thought she was living in Seattle, when in actuality she had moved from Tucson to Sacramento, Calif., according to Cragar’s brothers and sisters.
Then this past February Cragar got a phone call. Her 12-year-old grandson Christopher needed some family history. Cragar was able to provide information on her husband’s family, who came from Germany, but that was it.
“I sat looking at myself and I thought, ‘where am I from? Where is everything?’” she said.
Cragar and her daughter Debbie began to unravel the family tree. They used ancestry.com and sifted through the Internet. They discovered that her father, George Wind, was in the Navy for 35 years. He had eaten dinner at the White House with President Ford and served at the Pentagon, an impressive history, she says. But to her dismay he had died shortly after Sept. 11, 2001 from an illness.
Cragar stopped looking for more but Debbie continued. She found an obituary of Cragar’s brother on her father’s side. The names of her remaining brothers and sisters were listed.
After some time and hesitation Cragar finally called her brother, also George Wind. She confirmed his identity, asked if he knew about his father’s previous marriage and child.
“I just lost it. I said ‘You know about me?’ and he said ‘Hon, we’ve been looking for you for years. Dad wanted to find you so much,’” Cragar said.
Wind told her to call her sister, Cindy Bell. Through many tears, talking and revelations with many members of her family, Cragar made the trip to Norfolk, Va. to finally meet them.
“It just broke my heart. I couldn’t believe it,” Cragar said. “All of a sudden I had family coming out of the woodwork.”
Her trip was spent learning about her father, his military medals and funeral. Cragar’s newfound family provided a video of his funeral, which helped her to gain closure.
“There was that part that was missing, now that part is closed,” Cragar said. “I have family and I know my dad loved me and wanted to find me. I think that’s the important part. Even though he passed away, at least I know how he felt.”
Cragar and the family have planned next year’s reunion. She and her husband plan to road trip across the country with stops in Oklahoma, Kansas and Virginia. She hopes one day they will be able to visit Kirkland and Seattle as well.Contact Kirkland Reporter Reporter Raechel Dawson at firstname.lastname@example.org or 425-822-9166 X5052.