John E. Cramer Sr.

July 13, 1919October 29, 2011

Surrounded by his wife of sixty-three years and his loving family, John “Jack” Edwin Cramer Sr. died peacefully on October 29th, 2011, at his home in Boulder, Colorado. He was 92 years old. Born on July 13, 1919, and raised in Greensburg, Pennsylvania, Jack was the eldest son of William and Josephine (nee Ivory) Cramer, and brother to Richard, William, and Rosemary. Jack attended St. Benedict’s Cathedral School and Greensburg High School, graduating in 1937. A scholarship to the University of Pittsburgh allowed him to further his education, but his studies were interrupted by World War II. Jack enrolled in the Army Officer’s Candidate School at Fort Benning, Georgia, and became a mortar platoon leader with the 8th Infantry Division. He was severely wounded in Normandy, France, where he received both the Purple Heart and the Bronze Star for valor. The years between 1944 and 1946 were spent recovering in a London hospital and later at Letterman General in San Francisco. Finally able to resume his academic goals, Jack re-entered the University of Pittsburgh where he completed his undergraduate degrees in economics and political science. He also earned a Masters in Political Science at Pittsburgh with additional course work at Georgetown University. On June 5, 1948, Jack married Catherine “Kitty” H. McCloskey, formerly of Grosse Pointe, Michigan, in Greensburg, PA. They began a new life together, and Jack embarked upon his teaching career at Seton Hill College. Soon afterwards, however, he accepted a position with the CIA as an intelligence research officer from 1953 - 55, specializing in Soviet industry. Academia was calling, though, so Jack and Kitty returned to Greensburg where Jack continued a life-long vocation as a professor of social sciences. He taught at Seton Hill College, Mount Mercy College in Pittsburgh (now Carlow University), and finally, St. Norbert College in DePere, Wisconsin, where he retired in 1984, professor emeritus. Soon after, Jack and Kitty moved to the Boulder area where several of his children were already living. Jack loved to travel. In 1984 he and Kitty had the good fortune to travel abroad to Germany to visit their daughter, Mary Grace, who was living there at the time. In 1995 he and his son Paul, a Vietnam veteran, traveled to Normandy, and in 1998 he traveled to Italy with his daughter, Mary Jo. He enjoyed every moment of those trips. In addition to travel, he happily pursued his hobbies of wood working, reading, and amateur farming. His interests were vast and his ability to invest weeks, months, and years on a single topic were well known. But in between sanding, reading and helping at a local farm, Jack played an active role in the lives of his children and grandchildren. Jack loved his wife, he loved his children, and he loved his grandchildren. His philosophy of life and teaching was shaped, not only by his humble roots as the son of a self-taught railroad engineer and a mother who always welcomed the hungry to her table, but by the Great Depression. Jack’s public service included roles as advisor to the Committee for the War on Poverty, consultant to the U.S. Steel Workers Union, and as an evaluator for the National Science Foundation. A passionate scholar, reader, and teacher, Jack was always surrounded by his library of books. He was ever searching for the truth, and always asked the hard and important questions. He never abandoned his principles. He knew that education was at the heart of transforming people and helping them to see their inherent worth and dignity. Jack is survived by his wife, Catherine, and his children, Mary Grace, Mary Jo, Paul, and Mark, as well as grandchildren Patrick, Emily, Jane, Paul Connor, Sam, Alex, Megan, Matthew, Sarah, Leslie, Jessica, Andrew, Jacob, and Katie. He was preceded in death by his sons Francis and John Jr., and his daughter, Elizabeth. His family extends a very sincere thank you to Dr. Paul Mackell for his decades of care and to Hospice of Boulder-Broomfield for their compassion and support. Funeral arrangements will be made by Crist Mortuary. A private celebration of his life will be enjoyed by his family. Special thanks to the staff at Crist Mortuary. Arrangements under the direction of Crist Mortuary, Boulder, CO.


John E. Cramer Sr.

have a memory or condolence to add?


receive updates when new memories are posted


November 23, 2011

John Cramer was a great influence on me as a young man at St. Norbert. So bright, well informed, passionate about the important issues. He made me want to be like him. I am pleased to know that he lived such a long & full life.
- John Nemick, '74

Scott Layman

November 21, 2011

He was probably the reason a average student like me was able to get through college a real big and positive influence on me. Meads "Mind self and society , Tocqueville "Democracy in America, MIlls "Power Elite. Shaped me in so many ways he lives on in this student.
He always had time to speak one on one, my best instruction from him was to balance the mind and body. Yes simple but from a hero father figure really profound. Condolences from some one who he realy influenced.

Scott layman 1974 St Nubs

November 8, 2011

Dear Grace and family,
I was saddened to see your father's obituary in the Greensburg paper. I am terribly sorry for your loss.
I have fond memories of your father as a young teenager. I remember Grace and I sharing our love life with him. With a straight face, he'd pretend to take us serious, and say, "I believe you are in love with love." He was easy to talk to and we trusted him with our secrets. Later, I remember a trip to Wisconsin to see everyone. Your Dad was the best tour guide. He made me feel so special spending time with us.
Many years have passed, but the one thing I remember the most about your family was the incredible love and respect you have for one another. And, that is due to the wonderful parents you are so blessed to have. I hope your memories of your father will help comfort you. And, remember he will always be apart of you.
With Love and Sincere Sympathy,
India (Indy) McClure Burrik

Grace, please get in touch with me when you can...Love Indy or 724-309-3605

November 7, 2011

Dear Cramer family,
Please know that you are in the thoughts and prayers of so many members of the St. Norbert college community.

I began as a St. Norbert student the year Dr. Cramer retired, so can't claim to have had extensive interactions with him. But for my faculty in sociology he was clearly the beloved elder. I always felt I learned something about Dr. Cramer through the stories of those who held him in such high esteem.

May love and a bounty of treasured memories bring you some comfort at this time of sadness.

Julie Donovan Massey '87
Senior Director for Mission and Ministry
St. Norbert College

Lacey & Paul MacQuinn

November 5, 2011

Dear Cramer Family
Please accept our most sincere sympathy.
You are all in our thoughts and prayers in this most difficult time.
Lacey & Paul MacQuinn
( friends of Laurie & Mark)
I'd like to share this poem with you
A Letter From Heaven
To my dearest family, some things I'd like to say.
But first of all, to let you know, that I arrived okay.
I'm writing this from heaven.
Here I dwell with God above.
Here, there's no more tears of sadness;
Here is just eternal love.
Please do not be unhappy just because I'm out of sight.
Remember that I am with you every morning, noon and night.
That day I had to leave you when my life on earth was through.
God picked me up and hugged me and He said, I welcome you.
It's good to have you back again, you were missed while you were gone.
As for your dearest family, They'll be here later on.
I need you here so badly, you are part of my plan.
There is so much that we can do, to help our mortal man.
God gave me a list of things, that he wished for me to do.
And foremost on the list, was to watch and care for you.
And when you lie in bed at night the days chores put to flight.
God and I are closest to the middle of the night.
When you think of my life on earth, and all those loving years.
Because you are only human, they are bound to bring you tears.
But do not be afraid to cry; it does relieve the pain.
Remember there would be no flowers, unless there was some rain.
I wish that I could tell you all that God has planned.
If I were to tell you, you wouldn't understand.
But one thing is for certain, though my life on earth is ov'r.
I'm closer to you now, than I ever was before.
There are rocky roads ahead of you and many hills to climb;
But together we can do it by taking one day at a time.
It was always my philosophy and Id like it for you too;
That as you give unto the world, the world will give to you.
If you can help somebody who is in sorrow and pain;
Then you can say to God at night....My day was not in vain.
And now I am contented... that my life was worthwhile.
Knowing as I passed along the way I made somebody smile.
So if you meet somebody who is sad and feeling low;
Just lend a hand to pick them up, as on your way you go.
When you're walking down the street and you've got me on your mind;
I'm walking in your footsteps only half a step behind.
And when it's time for you to go...from that body to be free.
Remember you're not're coming here to me.
Ruth Ann Mahaffey

October 31, 2011

Dear Jo, Grace and Family,
Frank and I are very sorry about the passing of your Father. He was a kind, open, warm-hearted person who made me feel good the few times I spoke with him. I know you will miss him terribly. If there is anything that I can do during this time, please let me know.
Vicki Bryan and Frank Atencio