EARL ALBERT KRAAY
December 12, 1944 - July 11, 2014
Earl was born in Meridian, Idaho to Eddie and Beryl Kraay. The only child to parents who had long awaited children, Earl remembered his boyhood as idyllic. If you asked him about it, he'd reflect on going over the hill from the bench to hunt squirrels and find snakes, building a tree house with his dad and buying a new toy at Newberry's on his mom's payday.
After graduating from Borah High in 1963, he enlisted in the Army and became a paratrooper for two years in Panama. From there, he and three army buddies volunteered to go to Vietnam, where he was forward observer in the infantry.
Returning from Vietnam, Earl attended Boise College and graduated in 1970. He married Carol Millensifer in 1970. In 1971 he attended Navy OCS in Pensacola, where he earned his wings of gold as a Naval Flight Officer. Earl flew fighter jets, the F-4 Phantom and the F-14 Tomcat, deploying to the Mediterranean out of NAS Oceana, Virginia. Shore duty took the Kraays to Upstate New York, Pensacola, San Diego and Juneau, Alaska where he retired in 1992.
Following a 21 year Navy career, Earl worked as a contractor for the military first in New Jersey and then California. At NAS Lemoore, CA he was simulator instructor for F-18 Hornet pilots until 2007. He then became a senior flight test engineer at Naval Air Weapons Station, China Lake, CA until November 2013.
As a three-year-old, Earl told his mother that someday he would fly airplanes and land on big ships. From Cub Scouts through Naval retirement, Earl was most comfortable wearing a uniform. Off duty, he was a man of multiple interests: history, biology, art, music, gardening and old Land Rovers. He collected books, artwork, rocks, and music—a man whose depth could never be plumbed.
Earl is survived by his wife of 44 years, Carol; three children: Kate, of Seattle; Edward (Kei) and grandson Simon from San Francisco; and Heidi of Boise. Earl and Simon got to fish together over Father's Day 2014 in McCall. He loved his family, his pets and his Lord. Earl believed in Jesus Christ at a very young age, reaffirming his belief as a young man in his 20s. He was certain that his next "PCS orders" would have him "absent from the body and face to face with the Lord." Earl said he most wanted to be known for his spiritual courage. This was constantly demonstrated in his steady demeanor and steadfast faith as he took on any duty assigned, even as he endured the pain of this last illness.
The family is so grateful to the many medical and rehab people at St. Luke's Hospital and MSTI; Elks Rehabilitation Hospital; St. Luke's Home Care; Homewatch; the Veteran's Medical Center and Treasure Valley Hospice. We are forever indebted to Earl's "wingmen" as we lovingly called them: Jon Barnes, John Peterson, Steve Drummond, Gary Merkle and Bob Sutter, who lifted, exercised, transported and visited with Earl over the last seven months of his paralysis and illness. To many friends and family members who supported us through this journey, our thanks will be to pay it forward whenever possible.
Services will be held at Alden-Waggoner Funeral Chapel, 5400 Fairview Ave at 9 a.m. July 17, followed by committal and military honors at Idaho State Veterans Cemetery at 11 a.m.
Donations may be made to Wounded Warrior Project at woundedwarriorproject.org, in lieu of flowers.
Alden-Waggoner Funeral Chapel
5400 Fairview Avenue Boise, ID 83706
Published in Idaho Statesman on July 15, 2014