Remembering Alvah “Al” Cramer
Just a short few weeks ago, The Newtown Bee had the pleasure of sitting down with Alvah “Al” Cramer and his beloved wife, Cora “Coke” Cramer, for the article “Meet The Cramers: A Husband And Wife Team Dedicated To Each Other, And Their Hometown.”
The couple reminisced about their 66 years of marriage and the life they built together in town during their 54 years as residents.
The article also chronicled how their active lifestyle led them on many adventures traveling the world, skiing until the age of 85, and giving back to the community through volunteer work as well as Mr Cramer’s role of principal at Newtown High School (NHS) from 1965 to 1985.
When the news began to spread about Mr Cramer’s death, on September 28, those who knew him sent in their condolences and shared memories of times they had with him. Here are a few of those messages:
Newtown Democratic Town Committee Vice Chair Joan Plouffe said, “I liked and respected Al very much. I was fortunate to have served on a Charter Revision Commission (CRC) with Al, of which he was chair. Al was the right choice for chair, not only because he had served on a prior Charter Revision Commission, but also because he was a wealth of knowledge and a natural leader. His career as an educator was invaluable in leading us.
“Al was smart and fair-minded and ran the CRC with dedication to the process and to the community that he loved. He was inclusive and non-partisan; he was determined to hear everyone’s point of view and gain consensus. I am a better person for having known Al.”
Former selectman and local attorney Will Rodgers said, “I had the pleasure of working with Al on a number of municipal and civic boards over the years. The educator in him was evident, as he was always well-prepared; organized in thought presentation; and wonderfully, wonderfully apolitical. I will miss him.”
Selectman Jeff Capici said, “I am sorry to hear the sad news of Al’s passing. While I did not know him well, I was a member of the Legislative Council that appointed him to serve on the 2007 Charter Revision Commission, which he led as chairman.
“When Al completed his work on the commission, he articulated his views to the Legislative Council passionately and thoughtfully explained why he believed the charter should be amended to reflect them. Among the changes proposed was to increase the Board of Education membership from six to seven. The electorate listened and ultimately affirmed the changes at referendum.
“Years later, as chairman of the 2015 Charter Revision Commission, I invited him to speak to the reasoning behind the amendments he had advocated for. At the time, the commission was considering other changes to the Board of Education language and the election of its members. He recalled the charter change reasoning and clearly conveyed it to us, which helped to avoid pitfalls often encountered when tinkering with a complex document.
“Al has a long history serving Newtown. He left an indelible mark on the excellent education Newtown provides its children, both professionally and as a community volunteer. He will be missed by many. I wish his family and close friends well, and he is in my prayers.”
Former first selectman Pat Llodra said, “I first got to know Mr Cramer in 1980. He was then principal of NHS where my son, Mike, was a freshman. I remember those first days of our acquaintance being so impressed by Al’s energy, his educational acumen, and his welcoming demeanor. To me, Al Cramer was a bit [of a] larger-than-life figure. He seemed to dominate the space with the power of his personality — always to be moving forward toward some achievement in student academics, curriculum, or sport.
“I developed a depth of respect and value for Al Cramer. That respect and care never diminished through the many more interactions and partnerships we had at CAS [Connecticut Association of Schools] and at CIAC [Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference], where our interests and focus on support for public schools, including the athletic programs, aligned. Al’s leadership and the strength of his advocacy for educational and athletic programs was unparalleled in my experience.
“Our interests aligned again in these later years at the local level, seeking change and leadership for development of the Fairfield Hills Campus, and he was one of the first persons thought of when we considered leadership for a charter revision process. Al Cramer had a life well-lived — adding value and purpose wherever he went and [to] all those who had the privilege of being under his vast umbrella of service.”