William F. Cramer, 99
Bill Kramer was born on February 15, 1918 at home on Broadway in the Astoria neighborhood of Queens in New York City. He was a child of immigrant parents and lived with his extended family including grandparents and cousins. Bill's first language was German. His family ran two small grocery stores (with fabulous delis) in Astoria and Sunnyside, New York. Bill attended P.S. 11 in Astoria and when his family moved to Sunnyside when Bill was 7 years old, he attended P.S. 2. At P.S. 2 he met his lifelong favorite teacher "Miss Gubo" who introduced Bill to the joys of poetry. Miss Gubo appreciated Bill's dedication to academics and she double promoted him so that he skipped grades. He attended Townsend Harris High School and began studies at City College of New York at the age of 15. By then Bill's family was based in Ronkonkoma on Long Island.
Bill received a Bachelor of Science degree (1938, German Studies) from City College, Master of Library Science (1948) from Pratt Institute and a Master of Arts (1953, English Literature) from Columbia University. In 1979 he took post graduate classes at New York University.
Bill's father died suddenly when Bill was 14 years old, and he took a variety of jobs to help support the family. He was in the U.S. Army and Air Force from 1945-6 stationed in Iceland. During this time Bill sent all of his pay checks home to help support his family. When he returned from the war he enrolled in library school as part of the GI Bill.
On the first day of library school at Pratt, Bill met Thelma Atkinson and soon they were engaged. Both Bill and Thelma worked at the New York Public Library during their engagement. They were married on July 9, 1949 and the marriage lasted 58 years when Thelma died in a tragic accident. They had 2 daughters, Miriam and Joyce, who were raised in West Babylon, New York. Bill's love for poetry continued, but he also enjoyed frequent trips to many art museums of New York City.
Bill's favorite job was being a reference librarian, a post he held at Peninsula (Lawrence), Farmingdale, Deer Park, Bay Shore, and Brentwood Libraries. He was also Library Director at Lindenhurst and Glen Cove Libraries on Long Island.
Bill and his wife Thelma retired to Chapel Hill, North Carolina and then to Williamsburg, Virginia where they took many Peer Learner classes. In an effort to be closer to family they moved briefly to Woodsville, NH and then to West Lebanon, NH. Bill started numerous poetry appreciation groups in 5 states--New York, North Carolina, Virginia, New Hampshire and Vermont, with Thelma participating. In 2014 he moved to Valley Terrace Assisted Living (where he and Thelma had volunteered for years). He received wonderful care nurturing and support at Valley, and he loved living there right from the start. He was frequently heard reciting poetry there including Goethe's Faust (which he recited in German). And it was at Valley Terrace that he discovered his passion for singing!
He was pre-deceased by his parents (Martha and Frederick), his wife Thelma and his sister Ruth. He is survived by his brother Fred, daughters Miriam and Joyce, brother-in-law Lou, grandchildren Nicholas, Lindsay, Heather and Nathaniel, son-in-law Steve and numerous nieces and nephews.
A private gathering was held at the Knight Funeral Home in White River Junction. A funeral service will be held in Clifton Park, NY for Bill's family at their convenience. Bill requested that any donations made in his memory go to the Bugbee Senior Center of 262 North Main Street, White River Junction, VT 05001. It was at Bugbee that Bill founded and led his all-time favorite poetry group.