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Judson Arnold "Jud" Cramer


1921 - 2015
Judson Arnold "Jud" Cramer Obituary
Judson "Jud" Arnold Cramer, a respected businessman, community builder and leader of extraordinary vision and dedication, who invested his time, resources and energy in making life better for all who crossed his path, passed away on Thursday, Aug. 13, 2015. Service: 3:30 p.m. Tuesday at Arborlawn United Methodist Church, 5001 Briarhaven Road, Fort Worth. Interment: Greenwood Memorial Park. Memorials: In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in his memory to Arborlawn United Methodist Church, 5001 Briarhaven Road, Fort Worth, Texas 76109, or to the Texas Health Resources Foundation, 612 E. Lamar Blvd. #900, Arlington, Texas 76011. Jud was born in Fort Worth on Aug. 16, 1921, to Caroline Massey and John Arnold Cramer. He was the youngest of three children with sisters Macile and Maurine. As a child of the Great Depression and of a family of modest means, he always worked as a youth, first as a paperboy for the Star-Telegram and later at Tyler Simpson, a wholesale grocer, where he made 25 cents an hour. Jud graduated from Poly High School in 1939 and attended TCU. He joined the Civil Pilot Training School at Texas Wesleyan College. This is where he met his future wife, Elizabeth Shawver, on a blind date on Nov. 7, 1942. Elizabeth transferred to SMU after the home economics department was closed at Wesleyan, and Jud also transferred to SMU. He joined the Army Air Corps and trained to be a B-17 command pilot, training in Miami, South Dakota and West Texas. Jud was stationed in England and Europe from 1943-1945 as a flight officer during World War II in the 8th Air Force, 92nd Bomber Group, 545th Bomb Squadron. Jud would not talk of his experience as a pilot, but did confide in a letter to Elizabeth that his plane was twice the only one to return to England. He was the recipient of a Bronze Star, the American Theater Ribbon and the Victory Medal. He was discharged in 1946 and returned to Fort Worth, the only place he ever wanted to live. Jud married Elizabeth Shawver on Feb. 14, 1948, after a long courtship. They raised a family, daughters Karen and Carmen, while Jud learned business from a good friend's father at M.G. Davis Supply Co. He was a natural salesman but had no technical knowledge of the industry he landed in: automobile upholstery and paint. Jud made the decision that if he was ever going to make the leap to owning his own business, his deadline was age 40. He opened J & J Supply, a wholesale/retail distribution company. Jud was very proud that J & J Supply Company, which sold to a good friend and employee, is still in business 54 years later. Westcliff Methodist Church became an important central point for the Cramer family. Jud was in involved on the Board of Trustees, first as a member then as chairman. He also served as chairman of the Finance Committee and as a lay leader. Two friends, his pastor, Jack Payne, and mentor R.E. Cox Jr., propelled him into the philanthropic and community building career that Jud pursued until his death. He sat on the Board of Directors at Ridglea State Bank, was a founding director of Summit Bank and was chairman of River Plaza National Bank. Texas Wesleyan University invited Jud to join the Board of Trustees where he served in several capacities: general chairman of the Sustentation Fund Campaign and as vice chairman and chairman of the Board of Trustees. In 1983, he was awarded the honor of joining the Business Hall of Fame by TWU and the Fort Worth Business Press. Jud was named Alumnus of the Year in 1975 at TWU and received an honorary doctorate of business and finance in 1979 and an honorary doctorate of law in 2013. In 1967, Jud joined the Board of Trustees of Harris Methodist Hospital at the downtown campus in Fort Worth. He held numerous jobs within that board: the Executive Committee and later as chairman of that committee; vice chairman and chairman of the Building and Grounds Committee; the Finance Committee; secretary of the Board of Trustees; and chairman of the Board of Trustees. One of the greatest joys in his and Elizabeth's life was the contribution to Harris' downtown campus that enabled the hospital to construct a new food service facility. That facility houses Cramer Cafe' as a tribute. He also later served as vice chairman and chairman of the Harris Methodist Hospital HEB Board of Trustees. While chairman of the Board of Trustees, Jud and then CEO of Harris Methodist Hospital, Ron Smith, selected and bought the site for what would be the new Harris Methodist Southwest Hospital and Professional Building. He was so proud of the growth and success of that hospital. The consolidation of area hospitals, initially including Harris Methodist Hospital, Presbyterian Hospital of Dallas and Arlington Memorial Hospital, found a strong advocate in Jud. He saw the positive dollar savings in merging, but also saw the advantage of the future medical strength of a larger group than just Harris Methodist. He saw the ability to better deal with insurance companies, the government and the fast-changing medical community as an advantage. Texas Health Resources became a force in hospital administration nationally. Jud was a member of the Board of Trustees and remained active in that role until his death. His career at Harris Methodist Hospital led to other volunteer opportunities within the medical field. Jud was a member and later president of the Governing Board of the Texas Hospital Association. In 1984, he was granted the Founder's Award from the Texas Association of Hospital Governing Boards. Jud was also granted the Trustee Award for Outstanding Contributions to Healthcare. Within the American Hospital Association, he was a member of the National Congress of Hospital Governing Boards. Jud was a board member of the Dallas-Fort Worth Hospital Council and served as chairman of the Board of Trustees. In 1991, he joined other important volunteers within the health field as the recipient of the Distinguished Health Service Award. As a member of the Governing Board of the Texas Hospital Trustees, Jud became the chairman. He received the Founders Award from the Trustees for his service. Jud dedicated thousands of hours of service to organizations such as KERA Channel 13 Television Board of Directors; Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce as director and chairman of the Industrial Expansion Committee; Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce as trustee; the Fort Worth Citizen's Crime Committee and the Fort Worth Citizen's Organized Crime Committee as a member for six years and as chairman in 1987. He also received the William B. Todd Service-Above-Self Award from that organization. Jud was a board member of Prevent Blindness, on the Executive Board of Boy Scouts of America-Longhorn Council, a member of the Board of Trustees of the Easter Seal Society, treasurer and member of the Board of Directors of Neighborhood Health Horizons, Inc., a member of the Task Force on Indigent Health Care, Austin, Texas, and vice president of Fort Worth Progress Inc. The YMCA of Metropolitan Fort Worth became important to Jud as he served as the chairman of the Board of Directors. He received the YMCA Chi Rho Award in 1996. Jud joined the Board of Trustees of Junior Achievement of Tarrant County and became chairman of the Long Range Planning and Board Recruitment and then president and chief executive officer of the Executive Committee. Jud was a dedicated member of the Rotary Club of Fort Worth. He and Elizabeth were proud to host the International Rotary meeting at their home when it convened in Fort Worth. He was a director and president and was awarded the distinction of being a Paul Harris Fellow in 1982. The March of Dimes had a special place in his heart, too, as Jud worked with Paula Ransom to advance the organizations goals, serving on the Board of Trustees and the Executive Committee. He helped establish and launch the MOMmobile Program. Jud received for his work the Distinguished Volunteer Service Award for North Texas in 1992, the National Service Award in 1993 and the Champion Babies Award in 2005. He was also a dedicated member of the Exchange Club of Fort Worth and a former president. He was a deer hunter, which was a solitary passion, but enjoyed dove hunting with the same friends for over 50 years. Jud and Elizabeth traveled for years with the Frog Club, attending TCU games. Jud never met a stranger. He took pride in being a good husband and father. Widely respected for his leadership skills and genuine interest in the contributions of others, Jud made a lasting impact on family, friends and those he touched. He was preceded in death by his wife of 62 years, Elizabeth Cramer, and sister, Macile Cramer Miller. Survivors: Daughters, Karen Cramer and Carmen Cramer; grandson, Drew Cramer Tracy and wife, Erica; great-granddaughter, Zenith Tracy; great-grandson, Tayton Tracy; sister, Maurine Cramer Gilliland; and nephew, John Gilliland and wife, Jan.
Published in Star-Telegram from Aug. 16 to Aug. 18, 2015
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