Walter H. Cramer Jr., 83, an Oak Park resident since 2008, died on May 18, 2012 after a 20-year battle with Parkinson's disease. Born on June 8, 1928 in Pennsylvania, he graduated from Penn State University in 1950. He went on to be a staff sergeant in the U.S. Army from 1950-1952 before receiving a master's degree in business from the University of Pittsburgh in 1958. He spent most of his career as a marketing executive in the railroad business in St. Louis and Detroit.
Mr. Cramer retired as senior vice president of marketing for the Grand Trunk Railroad in 1991 and spent much of his retirement in Wilmington, N.C. He and his wife Arlene of more than 50 years moved to Oak Park in 2008 to live closer to family. Living in Holley Court Terrace, Mr. Cramer became a big fan of sandwiches from Johnnie's Beef, burgers from Five Guys and eating donuts from the Farmers Market on Saturday mornings while watching Penn State football in his final years.
An athlete and avid sailor, he defied Parkinson's disease for many years — enjoying golf, swimming, bocce ball, and beach walks for more than a decade after being diagnosed. He also did not lose his sense of humor. Whenever complications from Parkinson's or other ailments led to a hospital stay, he would entertain the nursing staff with his jokes and one-line zingers.
Walter Cramer is survived by his wife, Arlene; his son, Mike; his daughter, Christina; and his six grandchildren.
Rev. Wayne Myers of Fair Oaks Presbyterian Church presided over a well-attended memorial service celebrating Mr. Cramer's life on May 23 at Holley Court Terrace. Mr. Cramer's daughter and three of his grandchildren read scripture passages. Mr. Cramer's son Mike, of Oak Park, and his son-in-law, Mike Mulligan, a Chicago Tribune columnist and sports talk show host on WSCR The Score, also delivered words of remembrance that made many in the crowd feel they knew Walter Cramer personally.