For years, Talker readers have enjoyed Eugene Kramer’s commentary on jazz, baseball and the human condition. Last Sunday, Eugene passed away after a long and good life. Below is his obituary, co-written by his children, Leslie and David. Below are also selected pictures and links.
Eugene Kramer, of Rochester, New York, born on August 14, 1929 in Brooklyn, New York, to the late Anna Kramer and the late Louis Kramer, passed away at age 89 on June 30, 2019. Eugene was married to Carol Kramer. He is survived by his son, David Kramer; daughter, Leslie Kramer (Justin Boyce); grandchild, Audrey Boyce; sister-in-law Janet Burke (Frank Burke) and friends, Julie Everitt, Lucian Waddell, Linda Howland, Marcia Marsh, Sid Rosenzweig, Richard Henshaw and Vic Vinkey.
Eugene had a brilliant mind, attended Stuyvesant High School and CCNY and completed a Masters Degree in Political Science at University of Chicago. His first job was working in transportation planning in Chicago where he met Carol. They later moved to Pittsburgh PA where their two children were born and Eugene was working as a planner. His career took him next to Ann Arbor, Michigan and later back to Rochester where he worked for the New York State Urban Development Corporation and later as Executive Director of the Rochester Housing Council where he was proud of his work helping clients overcome challenging housing issues.
He was musical, enjoying playing the trumpet and piano. From his teenage years hanging out at record stores in NYC, he loved jazz. He had an encyclopedic knowledge of jazz and collected records including some of the earliest recordings. He knew and loved Louis Armstrong. Believe it or not, Louis and Gene occasionally jammed together when both lived in NYC. Louis and Gene were on a first name basis that cemented their relationship.
In the wide world of jazz, Eugene was friends with Don Ewell, a pianist of great renown. Eugene spent a great deal of time writing and publishing a biography of Don.
Eugene loved books and history, especially obsessed with the history of World War I. After he retired, he joined the Rochester Bibliophile Society where he was the editor of the newsletter covering fascinating aspects of local history.
For many years, Eugene volunteered for the Houghton Bookstore. Along with his good friend Richard Henshaw and many others, Eugene dutifully catered and sorted books in a labor of love.
Chess was also a passion. He played with family and friends, in tournaments, and more recently with computers. One of his best friends was Ray Murphy (now deceased) who also loved jazz and was a professor at U of R. He and Carol had a group of close friends who came to dinner every Sunday.
Eugene also loved sports, particularly baseball. He loved the Dodgers and later the Yankees and went to Rochester Red Wings games when he could. In his youth, he mastered table tennis and later badminton and before his stroke he played weekly. He also loved watching classic films and European travel.
Like many Jewish intellectuals and secular humanists of his era, he had a passion for understanding the world, and always had a meaningful insight to share, sometimes funny, sometimes profound. He was a great writer and a great thinker. He passed along his lifelong love of learning to his children.
Eugene often befriended people down on their luck, always sharing his generous spirit.
Mid-1960’s From To Dad from Talker with Love
1970’s From To Dad from Talker with LoveEugene Kramer publishes “Isaac” sixty-five years later.
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