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Richard Kraham

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Kraham, Richard CHATHAM Richard Kraham- noted area educator, baseball player and highly decorated Army Air Corps veteran of World War II - died September 13, 2011 with his family at his side. He was 89. Mr. Kraham was a respected Chatham High School teacher and principal from 1950 to 1978. He was born in Cooperstown, New York on November 14, 1921, the son of Sarah and Michael Kraham. He graduated from Cooperstown High School in 1940 where his exceptional baseball skills were noted by the New York Herald Tribune when they wrote an article about him that the "Birthplace of Baseball May Spawn Star." While working in advertising in Manhattan in 1941, Kraham had a tryout with the Brooklyn Dodgers and went to Spring training with the team. He was assigned to their Olean farm team of the New York Pennsylvania League. World War II cut his professional baseball career short. Kraham enlisted in the Army Air Corps and was part of the 15th Air Force 98th bomb group, 345th squadron. He flew 50 missions over Nazi-held Europe from bases in Tunisia, Libya, and later Italy in B-24 aircraft as a radio operator and waist gunner. While on a bombing mission over Toulon, France, Kraham's flight warming suit, connected to the plane's electrical system, caught fire as the fleet was being strafed by German ME 109 aircraft. At his personal peril, Kraham continued fighting from his waist gunner position and shot down three enemy fighter planes. He was awarded one of the Air Force's highest honors, the Distinguished Flying Cross with two oak leaf clusters for his heroism. After the war, Kraham met and fell in love with Jane P. Harris of Lockport, New York and the couple were wed on June 29, 1946. Kraham graduated with a B.A. in History from Hartwick College in Oneonta, New York and later obtained his M.A. from the University of Buffalo. In 1950 he and wife Jane, both teachers, were hired to teach in the Chatham School system. Mr. Kraham taught history. In 1961 he was made high school principal where he remained until 1978. He was later a member of the school board. Kraham was a member of the Sanford W. Smith Hook and Ladder Company of the Chatham Fire Department and was its president in the mid fifites. He was also a member of the Chatham Blue Sox team of the Columbia County Twilight League. Kraham also coached Little League teams and was a JV baseball and football coach at Chatham High. He was a loving and and wonderful father, uncle and grandfather and a role model to the thousands of students lives he impacted in 28 years as an educator. Kraham is survived by his loving wife of 65 years, Jane; his daughter, Robin Julian (Robert) of Amherst, New Hampshire; his son Keith of Cooperstown, N.Y.; and sons, John (Michele) and Rich (Sally) of Chatham, and Socorro Uribe Kraham of Chatham. He is also survived by his sister, Frances Watson and brother, William Kraham. He also leaves his grandchildren, Sarah Kraham, Zachary Kraham, Kathryn Kraham, Kevin Kraham, Brendon Kraham, Caitlin Julian, Brendan Julian, Alexandra Kraham Willhite and Bryan Kraham. He is also survived by eight great-grand-children. Mr. Kraham was predeceased by his beloved granddaughter, Meghan Kraham and by his sisters; Helen, Kathryn, Mary, Gertrude, Madeline, and brothers; Robert, Paul, Charles, and John. The wake is planned for Friday, September 16, 2011 from 4-7 p.m. at St. James Catholic Church in Chatham, N.Y. The funeral is scheduled for Saturday, September 17, 2011 at 9 a.m. in Chatham at St. James also. Burial will be later that afternoon in Cooperstown at St. Marys, Our Lady of the Lake Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, the family respectfully requests donations be made to the Richard A. Kraham Scholarship Fund, in care of First Niagara Bank, 16 Coleman Street, Chatham, NY. For online condolences contact, wenkfuneralhome.com.
Published in Albany Times Union on Sept. 15, 2011
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