Brian Cranert

Obituary
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Brian Frederick Cranert

Died on January 29, 2013 in a hospital in Costa Rica after many years of battling serious health issues arising from his military service in the Vietnam War.


Born on July 18, 1946 in San Francisco to Walter and Ollie Cranert, Brian was a lifelong resident of San Francisco, with the exception of the last 12 years of his life when he resided in Costa Rica.


Brian attended Alamo Elementary, Presidio Junior High and Washington High School in San Francisco, after which he went on to Puget Sound University, Foothill Junior College, eventually graduating from the University of San Francisco with a degree in English literature.


Brian was known as a man with a zest for life-especially Bay Area sports, gambling, Budweiser, peppermint schnapps, BV Cabernet, Liars Dice (just ask Ralph Barbieri) and, as anyone can attest to, an eye for the ladies, much to the chagrin of many of his girlfriends. How many of you women out there have been on the receiving end of Brian's reciting (down on one knee), To His Coy Mistress, by Andrew Marvell? Brian also considered himself a connoisseur of good food-what that really meant, however, was anything smothered in mayo, hot sauce or drawn butter.


In 2000 Brian decided he wanted to learn to speak Spanish and so he set off for Costa Rica for what was to be a few months immersed in learning his new language. However, he fell in love with the country and never looked back. He found his new family there and it is where he wanted to spend the rest of his life.


Brian never took life or any occasion too seriously. When asked to become an "official" minister so he could marry his brother, Dorn, to his future wife, Mandy, Brian didn't hesitate, he was game. He wrote the ceremony the night before the wedding on a yellow legal tablet. Unbeknownst to the newly weds, the ceremony was to include a side bet he had with his good friend, Neil Riofski, that he couldn't use four big words: misogamists, bromidic, ephemeral and macrocosmic, AND mention the 49ers in the marriage ceremony. He won the bet going away. That was our Brian.


Brian was the consummate athlete who excelled in many sports, whether it was football, swimming, golf or rugby. He won the Al Catimon Award as the best senior athlete as a member of Washington High's fall 1963 graduating class; he was a starting member of the varsity football team, member of the swimming team, and, along with Roger Mialocq, a star on the golf team that played against Johnny Miller when Miller was at Lincoln High. During the 1963 high school football season, Brian participated in the Turkey Day Championship Game at Kezar Stadium where Washington lost a close game to St. Ignatius. Later in life Brian worked as the Defensive Coordinator for the Washington High School football program with his close friends, Jim Ruane, his English teacher from high school, and Bill Ferrero, and they eventually won that same City Championship.


Brian volunteered to join the army in 1966 and became a decorated veteran of the Vietnam War and received the Purple Heart. After rigorous rehab from a land mine injury to his legs, he was able to become a star rugby player for the San Francisco Rugby Club while still being classified as 40% disabled. Brian pursued his rugby career with gusto, including eventual selection to the California Grizzly Rugby All-Star team, which traveled to New Zealand for a three-week tour in 1973. Brian also traveled on rugby tours to both England and Wales.


Brian was an avid golfer and could be found travelling Northern California golf courses with his golf buddies Joey Vitrano and Neil Riofski. During the late 1960's and early 1970's whilelaying rugby, Brian starred opposite Max Gail in the role of Chief Bromden in the Little Fox Theater's production of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. He was an avid bridge player in his 20's and 30's, once beating the Dallas Aces, which was a shock to everyone in the bridgecommunity. After graduation from USF, Brian worked as a bartender at various San Francisco watering holes, most notably Pat O'Shea's on Geary Street.


In 1983 he, along with his brother, Dorn, purchased The Irving Club on Irving Street in the Sunset District. The Irving Club became a favorite of sports fans throughout the City, but especially the Sunset District, and was one of the first bars to start an NCGA golf club for its patrons. Brian and Dorn also purchased and re-established the Kezar Club on Stanyan Street as one of San Francisco's preeminent sports bars, as well as purchasing the old Lost Weekend bar on Taraval Street, which was re-designed as a fine-dining restaurant, and today is known as the popular Parkside Tavern.


Brian was a life-long lover of all San Francisco Bay Area sports teams and loved the 49ers with an unabiding passion and attended games starting in the early 1950's with his father and brother. He was a diehard San Francisco Giants fan and often took busloads of his restaurant customers to Giants games. When Hank Greenwald was let go by the Giants, he felt so passionately about losing Hank as the voice of the Giants, that he hired an airplane to circle Candlestick Park with a banner reading, "We Love You Hank".


During Brian's final month, Dorn asked him whether he wanted to continue to fight the diseases that were devastating him, and, although Brian could barely speak, he gave the thumbs up sign and whispered, "Hey, the Giants just re-signed Scutaro and Pagan . . . I waited 50 years for that first World Series Championship, and now they've won two, I'd like to stick around to see if they can win three!"


Brian enjoyed an interesting and fruitful life, always enjoying the journey, but most important to him were his friends, of which there were many, and he wanted them to know that he loved being a part of their lives over the years.


Brian is survived by his wife, Deborah, and his adopted children, Juan Carlos and his wife Charlene, Karol, and his beloved grandchild, Isabella; his brother, Dorn and his wife, Mandy, as well as Brian's very close friends, Edward and Lily Noon and Joan Wallace, whose ongoing love and support was instrumental in Brian's physical and emotional well-being as he battled his illnesses.


There will be an open-house celebration of Brian's life for all who knew and loved Brian over the years to be held at the Lincoln Park Golf Course Clubhouse on Saturday, April 13th, between the hours of 5:00 p.m. and 10:00 p.m.


In lieu of flowers the family requests donations be made to a Bay Area youth sports .


Published in San Francisco Chronicle on Mar. 29, 2013
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