June 1927 ~ May 2021
Joseph Edward Kramer, Jr. was born on June 25, 1927 to Joseph and Anne Kramer in Chicago, Illinois. His father was a restless person and that combined with the economic difficulties of the Depression Years resulted in the family moving often. They lived in several states including Illinois, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Oklahoma, and California. Joseph had to get used to adapting to new situations, surroundings, and schools. In fact, he told of attending seven different high schools over four years. When the family finally settled in Oakland, California, Joseph attended and graduated from Oakland Technical High School. He was also able to attend Coyne Electrical School in Chicago during his summers near the end of high school.
Shortly after his high school graduation, he was drafted into the US Army and stationed at Fort Sam Houston near San Antonio, Texas. The servicemen would travel to the nearby town of New Braunfels where community sponsored events were offered for their entertainment. It was at one of these dances that Joseph spotted Virginia Haas and invited her to dance.
They were mutually “smitten” and, not very long after, they were married on June 5, 1947. They first lived in New Braunfels, but within a year and a half, moved to Oakland, California where Joseph quickly found work as an electronics technician. He had been interested in electronics from childhood and had decided to pursue a career in that field. Other than the brief time he spent at Coyne Electrical School, Joseph’s knowledge of electronics was gained through reading trade magazines and personal experience of building and repairing electronic equipment.
For many years, Joseph maintained side-by-side stores on MacArthur Blvd. in Oakland: Communications Unlimited and ABC Television and Electronics. Although in his early years Dad often worked two or even three jobs to provide for his family, later he was able to devote full time to the two businesses. In 1971, however, he applied for a job as an electrician with the City of San Leandro for maintenance, repair and installation of traffic signals and controllers. He rose to the top of the pool of applicants, was hired, and spent the next twenty years in that employment. It resulted in a nice pension and health benefits when he retired in 1991.
Joe and Virginia had agreed that they wanted a large family and together they raised seven children. They managed to buy a house in a new subdivision in San Leandro and they lived there for forty years. Then, in 1998 they bought another new house in a new development in Delhi, California.
Joseph loved music and accumulated a substantial collection records, 8-Track tapes, cassette tapes, compact discs, VHS tapes and DVD’s. After he and Virginia became empty-nesters, they traveled annually across the country to visit family and friends and to attend bluegrass music festivals in various states. His love for music prompted him to buy numerous guitars and violins to give to children or veterans who wanted to learn to play.
Joseph tended to keep to himself unless he was with a group of close friends or associates. Few people know that he was compassionate and generous, often willing to lend a helping hand to those around him who were struggling. That help was usually provided anonymously.
Joseph was raised in the Roman Catholic Church, but for many years of his adult life, he did not attend church services. After he retired, however, he and Virginia began to attend worship services together and continued to do so until he was no longer able to drive. Virginia suffered a stroke in November, 2018 and became a full time resident at Covenant Care in Turlock. Joseph would make daily and sometimes twice daily visits to spend time with her. This continued until the Covid-19 shutdown and Virginia’s passing in March of 2020. He continued to live on his own with some assistance from daily caregivers and visits by his children. In December of 2020, Joseph made a clear confession of trust in Jesus Christ for forgiveness of his sins, cleansing of his guilt, and the gift of eternal life in heaven.
Then, in May of 2021, he broke a hip and underwent a partial hip replacement. He was sent to Brandel Manor in Turlock for recuperation and rehabilitation, but, passed from this life on Monday, May 17 at the age of 93. His 94th birthday would have been June 25, 2021. Joseph always said he wanted to live to be 100. A few months before his passing, he must have decided that he was close enough, because he occasionally referred to himself as being “a hundred years old.”
Joseph will be greatly missed by his family. He was preceded in death by his parents; in recent years, he lost contact with his sister, Jacqueline. He was also preceded in death by his wife of nearly 73 years, Virginia. He is survived by his children: June (Ron) Gress of Medford, OR; Patricia (John) Holman of College Station, TX; Roland (Elaine) Kramer of Raleigh, NC; Joseph E. (Donna) Kramer, III of Vancouver, WA; Laura Sherman of Hemet, CA; Carol (Dennis) Hallam of Alameda, CA and Cheryl (Christopher) Dolan of Livermore, CA; fourteen grandchildren and eighteen great-grandchildren.
A memorial service celebrating the life of Joseph and Virginia will be held at 1:00pm on Tuesday, June 15, 2021 at Allen Mortuary, 247 N. Broadway in Turlock. Interment will be private at San Joaquin Valley National Cemetery.