Published Date Written by Eric Wise
Friends remembered a special hope and devotion to family when thinking about Frank, Kristy and Taylor Kramer, a Middletown family of three who died on Friday, Jan. 16 following a crash on Interstate 70 in western Pennsylvania.
State police reported to the Observer-Reporter newspaper that the family’s minivan struck a tractor-trailer rig from behind on I-70 near Speers in Fallowfield Twp., Washington County. The minivan then caught on fire, police said. No other injuries were reported in the accident.
The Kramers lived in Middletown for 25 years.
Frank Kramer was the Press And Journal’s press operator from 1989 through 2010. He lavished much of his time with his family, especially the needs of his daughter Taylor, who had Rett syndrome.
Friends said Frank continued to devote everything to his family, even as he suffered from a variety of ailments, including a kidney transplant, a recent cancer diagnosis and the continuing effects of a serious head injury.
“He was the foundation that enabled our company to establish itself as a quality commercial printing company,’’ said Joe Sukle, publisher of the Press And Journal. “Frank’s quiet, determined demeanor exemplified his personality. More than often a shrug of Frank’s shoulders or a barely audible ‘OK’ or ‘we can do that’ typified a lengthy conversation with Frank.”
Prior to his work at the Press And Journal, he had been a pressman at the former Democrat-Messenger in Waynesburg and the Observer Reporter in Washington, Pa.
Tom Menear, a longtime pressman at the Press And Journal, said his history with Frank goes back more than 20 years, with connections at the newspaper and Middletown American Legion Post 594, where both men served as officers.
“He never had a bad word for anybody,” Menear said. “He helped everybody he could.”
“Under the veneer of his stoic manner you could always tell Frank held hope for himself, his wife and his daughter,” Sukle said.
Kristy Kramer was a reporter for the former Democrat-Messenger. She served as the editor of the former Hershey Chronicle newspaper in the early 1990s, but had devoted much of her time recently to Taylor’s care and raising money for Rett syndrome.
Anne Gelata, of Middletown, worked with Kristy at the Hershey Chronicle when Kramer was a reporter and editor. “She was very good at what she did. I admired that,’’ Gelata said. “I admired her even more as the years went on for her dedication to her family and daughter, Taylor.”
The Kramers and their friends from the American Legion spearheaded local efforts to raise money for Rett syndrome-related causes, including “Stroll-a-thons” on City Island in Harrisburg and book sales, Menear said.
“She was a true advocate for Rett syndrome,” Gelata said. “She was always doing some kind of fundaiser to raise money for Rett research.”
Gelata said she was grateful for Kramer’s support of Gelata’s daughter, who has neurofibromatosis. Thanks in part to Kristy Kramer’s assistance, Gelata’s daughter took a trip sponsored by Make-A-Wish Foundation.
Menear said he found Kristy a “very cheerful person” at the many fundraising events they attended. “Her needs came second; the focus was always Taylor,” he said.
Menear said he best remembers the glow from Taylor when she liked or enjoyed something. Taylor, who graduated from Middletown Area High School in 2012, loved cartoons. “She’d get this bright smile on her face,” he said. “She was an angel, a blessing to all of us.”
The Kramers “were just all-around amazing people,” Gelata said.
“Even through all of their struggles … they were well-loved and will be greatly missed by all who knew them.”