Paula Louise Craig passed away very peacefully on November 14, 2022 after a nearly two-year battle with brain cancer. Born October 2, 1960 in Fort Dix, New Jersey, she was the loving daughter of Colonel Paul Craig and Miriam Louise (Weaver) Craig. Paula grew up in Claremont, New Hampshire and graduated from Stevens High School in 1978. She attended the University of New Hampshire and graduated in 1983 with a BA in Theater and Communications. After graduating, she was employed at Walt Disney World’s EPCOT Center and worked as a technician on EPCOT’s Lagoon fireworks show and multimedia extravaganza New World Fantasy, Laserphonic Fantasy, Illuminations & Skyleidoscope. While at Disney, Paula worked on the pyrotechnic teams for the parks daily production shows as well as special events. She was involved in the design and technical coordination of many of these shows. She was the pyrotechnics crew chief and logistics coordinator for the gala event ceremonies opening Disney MGM Studios.
After Disney, she became the laser/fireworks specialist for the grand opening of Fiesta Texas in San Antonio and was the pyrotechnics crew chief and logistics coordinator for the gala event ceremonies for the park’s grand opening. She was an integral part of the creative and technical teams that pioneered the development of the park’s multimedia show, The Lone Star Spectacular, as well as many other theatrical productions.
On March 27, 1995, Paula married her best friend, Gary Kudrna. They settled in Ennis, TX and together raised Gary’s sons, Ty Kudrna and Chaz Kudrna. Paula loved being “mom” and friend to Ty & Chaz and “bonus mom” and friend to Gary’s stepdaughter Taneel Pace from Jordan, Utah. She also felt blessed to have a large extended family of beloved nieces, nephews, cousins and in-laws.
With the support of Gary, her children and other family members, Paula continued her pyrotechnic career working from a home office in Ennis and then traveling across the US and internationally showing film locations.
Paula has been pyro coordinator for the grand opening of the Orlando “O-rena”, the MCI Center in Washington, DC, the Alamo Dome in San Antonio, and co-producer and pyro coordinator for the grand opening of GM Place in Vancouver. She has also been part of the pyro crew for major sporting events such as NBA games where she has worked with many team mascots, NHL games including Stanley Cup Finals, and MLB games including All Star games and World Series games . Paula was the events consultant for the US Olympic Festival held at the Alamo Dome. At UnReel Effects of Calgary, she worked on PBR events, the Canadian Finals Rodeo and the CFL Gray Cup in Winnipeg. She was part of the on-field fireworks crew for Superbowl XVII halftime show and pyrotechnics coordinator and crew chief for Superbowl XXV halftime show, as well as logistics coordinator for pre-game effects, post-game fireworks, and match scoring effects for Superbowl XXXVIII in Houston . In 1994 she produced the opening ceremony of the FIFA World Cup in Orlando. She was pyrotechnics designer, coordinator and crew chief for the Dallas Stars victory party at Reunion Arena when they won the 1999 Stanley Cup.
From 2002 to 2010, as the Pyro Spectaculars representative in Rialto, California, she was the logistics coordinator for the Fourth of July fireworks shows in the cities of Houston, Boston and Seattle. As a Pyro Spectaculars representative, she was tasked with Princess Cruises’ entertainment division for over 20 years, designing and implementing pyrotechnic upgrades for their onboard production shows to work with several Broadway icons including Steven Schwartz.
Paula has worked at all levels of the entertainment industry, from small, intimate theater shows to epic world-class multimedia and fireworks extravaganzas like Power of Houston. While she loved the unique challenges that came with each production, her favorite part of her job was meeting new people. She really enjoyed the company of new and old friends; and she cherished every friendship made along the way in every chapter of her life, from school to Camp Coniston to work.
She felt blessed that her job allowed her to travel the world and visit numerous countries on 6 continents. Her favorite travel destinations have included UNESCO World Heritage sites; historic European cities like Prague and Rome; Sydney, Australia; Istanbul, Turkey; Kotor, Montenegro; the Baltic States; and the pristine natural beauty of the Juneau, Alaska region, which she visited so often that she considered Juneau a home away from home.
Her favorite part of the trip was returning home to spend time with her beloved Gary and her rescue dogs. And she loved meeting all the children and grandchildren as well as other family members and dear friends.
She cherished Ty, Chaz, and Taneel’s spouses, partners, and families, especially their grandchildren Mason Kudrna, Vicky Kudrna, Ruben Leon, and Sysco Pace-Lettig. She also adored all her nieces, nephews, cousins and in-laws.
Her parents and her beloved brother, William S. (Bill) Craig of Bowdoinham, Maine, die.
An informal Celebration of Life memorial service will be held in Ennis, Texas at a later date; Details available soon. In lieu of flowers, we are asking for memorial donations to the GlennGarcelonFoundation.org (5030 969-7651; or to a conservation program (trees, bees, oceans, etc.) of your choice.
Finally, Paula’s family will scatter her ashes in the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico near Galveston to witness bottlenose dolphins, children’s laughter and glorious sunrises and sunsets. Her family hopes friends will remember her when they see the sea.
Paula politely requests that no balloons be deflated in her memory as they are so devastatingly damaging to the birds, wildlife and sea life she loved so much.