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Howard Ernest Kraft: 93, of Paradise Valley, AZ passed away peacefully on Saturday, March 29th, 2014. Howard was born May 5th, 1920 in Oakes, North Dakota of German/French ancestry. He was the second son (of 4) born to Alvin and Marie Kraft. Howard grew up on a farm outside of Oakes during the Dust Bowl and the Great Depression. After graduating high school he moved to Chicago in 1939 to work in the fledgling air conditioning business. After Pearl Harbor he enlisted in the Army Air Corps and did his flight training at Williams Field and ultimately became a bombardier, flying the B-24 Liberator. He was assigned to the 98th Bomb Group, based in Benghazi, Libya. He flew 21 missions before being seriously wounded. He was discharged in October of 1945 having earned a Purple Heart, Air Medal with 5 oak leaf clusters, various campaign medals and a Presidential Unit Citation. Howard returned to Phoenix and began his career in the air conditioning business at Climate Control Inc. An industry leader in the greater Phoenix area, Howard was an influential civic, professional and charitable organization leader from 1945 through 2005. Groups include the Phoenix 20-30 club, Phoenix Municipal Aeronautics Advisory Board, Phoenix Thunderbirds (Big Chief in 1961), Kiva Club, Phoenix Chamber of Commerce, YMCA, Phoenix General Hospital Advisory Board, Kiwanis, Phoenix City Council (Vice Mayor, 1971), 11 professional contractors associations, as well as church leadership and youth camps. In 2006, Howard, with author Larry R. Getman, published a book about his experiences and the miracle of his survival in WWII and family history. He was predeceased by Winona Kraft, his first wife and is survived by his wife, Mary Ann and their six children; Charlotte Kraft, Lynne Baker, Don Kraft, Wendy Kitts, Penny Markiewicz and Daleann Stewart, ten grand children and three great grand children. Howard will be sorely missed by his family, friends, neighbors and everyone who had the pleasure to meet him. A memorial service celebrating his life will be held 1 pm, Friday, April 4, 2014 at the Chaparral Christian Church, 6451 E. Shea Blvd, Scottsdale, Arizona. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in his name to Assistance League of Phoenix, 9244 N. 5th Street, Phoenix, AZ 85020.
Published in The Arizona Republic on Apr. 3, 2014