Remembering Kraut – Sharing Our Memories

In the weeks leading up to the dedication of the Jerald Krauthamer Classroom and the “Kraut’s Running of the Bulldogs” event in September, the D-E community was invited to share memories with and for Jerry and his wife, Betsey Carson. Hundreds of letters, emails, and postcards were sent the school—and more are still coming in—all of which are so compelling and sincerely appreciated. This small sampling only begins to convey the deep admiration and love that the D-E community felt for Kraut:

Retired faculty member Doris Gelman and Kraut, beloved D-E teachers (and friends).

I don’t know if you know this, but I was the person who brought Jerry to Dwight-Englewood, in the late 1970s. I first met him when he was a classmate of my daughter’s at New College in Sarasota, FL. For a short period after his graduation Jerry lived with us, and it was during long talks at that time that I came to know his deep love of literature, his gift of enjoying young people, his obvious love of teaching, and his lightning and mischievous sense of humor. I have been privileged to maintain my friendship with Jerry for these many years, and when he and my dearest, dearest friend, Betsey became close and later married, my heart leapt up. I wish I lived closer now, but it is a great comfort to see how Dwight-Englewood and a large community of loving friends have given Betsey and Jerry their care and support.
—Doris Gelman, Former Faculty (1967-2007), Former Head of History Department and Former Trustee

Dear Mr. Krauthamer,
An Inspirer. An Empowerer. An Engager. These three characteristics are just a short sample of the many you demonstrated with all of your students, including me. Too often we progress through the “ropes of life,” and do not invest the time to express our gratitude and authentic value for the support you so eagerly shared for our growth, as not only students, but also as global citizens of society. You made me feel truly supported when you said, “Please let me know how I can be helpful” and genuinely meant it. Also, the excitement you expressed to co-learn with me, rather than teach me, makes me feel like I was a partner in my learning experience. As an educator, your title ensured a role of heightening my knowledge in academics. You saw me not as one of the many students you have, but instead you valued me for my uniqueness and strengths. Your classroom promoted an environment where I felt like I was able to not only share my contributions, but also knew they were actually considered and appreciated. Thank you for being genuine. Thank you for being you. Thank you for being one of the few great teachers out there and for being such an incredible asset to the Dwight-Englewood School community. Henry Brook Adams wrote that “a teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops.” I have absolutely no doubt that you will forever inspire others to achieve greatness.
—With deepest gratitude, Karen Buckmiller Howarth ’94

Coach Screen Shot 2015-12-26 at 9.14.05 PMKrauthamer,
I always look back on my time on D-E’s cross country and winter/spring track teams with fond memories. Group workouts that stand out include: 24×200, group runs along Henry Hudson Drive, and of course repeats up Booth. You were truly the first person to encourage me to push myself to discover just how much I could accomplish.

In my sophomore year, I was determined to complete the Boston marathon, a dream of mine since I was young, and although I know you felt it was not the best idea, I remember your congratulations when I had succeeded. Without the foundation that you provided by training the right way, I doubt I would have been able to complete that race.

Thank you for your encouragement, dedication to team, and commitment to Dwight-Englewood all these years.

Extremely grateful to have had you as a coach.
—Ken Landau ’82, P’13 &’17

Mr. Krauthamer,
You were one of my favorite teachers at Dwight. You encouraged me to dig deeper into what I was reading and look beyond the text in front of me to bring the stories to life. You inspired a love of reading that is with me to this day. You taught me how to fail (I received my only F ever in your class!) but also how to correct my mistakes and learn from them (I turned that F into an A+ by understanding what my errors were).

I am a better writer, a better reader, and a better person because of you. I was honored to have you speak on my behalf at the Cum Laude induction ceremony before graduation. I still have your speech saved on my computer, and when I come across it I am always touched by your words. I strive every day to be the dedicated person you saw in 10th grade, and I hope I am achieving my goal. You will be sorely missed, but always remembered.

—Many thanks,
Marcia Zelman ’07

In Gratitude
Contributed by Terecille Basa-Ong ’03

I was driving around Englewood in late August and had always wondered what St. Peter’s College looked like up close, so I drove through and then stumbled upon neighboring Allison Park. Kraut had recommended it to me, a few months back, when I encountered him sitting at an empty table in the cafeteria amongst the students, as usual, waiting for anyone who needed him. I had never been to this park before, as it is hidden like he had said it would be. What a treasure. Here it was, 15 years after Kraut had been my teacher, and he was still teaching me new things.

I didn’t realize that that would be my last lesson from him. Just like I didn’t realize that the last time I’d ever see him would be at the first-ever and soon-to-be annual Kraut’s Running of the Bulldogs event on September 19. And as I, like him, never want to call attention or be in the spotlight, I didn’t even get to speak with him that day. The only interaction we had—our final exchange—was when he rolled past me in his wheelchair, en route to Schenck Auditorium after the room dedication; all I did was smile shyly, and I believe, I think—I hope—he smiled back.

Kraut, Betsey, and family and friends reacted to one of the many humorous remarks made during the ceremony in Schenck Auditorium.

We lost him six weeks and three days later. We honored him exactly eight weeks after the fun run/walk with a memorial service that filled Silberfein Gym to the brim with Kraut’s former and recent colleagues, alumni, students, athletes, and D-E parents (including my own). Some of them got to speak and teach us all a little bit more about the show-tunes- and sonnet-loving Kraut—including Kraut and Betsey’s “adopted” daughter, Young Park ’90, and former track coach and/or English colleagues Robert Vigneau, Peter Platt, and Sam Bacon. And they spoke standing up at a wooden lectern, which reminded me of how Kraut would open each class by standing—with both hands clutching either side of the top—at a similar lectern that had somehow made its way into the room formerly known as L208, now the Jerald Krauthamer Classroom.

While my heart sank on November 3, as I’m sure it did for most of us who cherished him, I was also quickly comforted by the fact that he was no longer in pain. For me, the memorial did give me a sense of closure after months of not seeing Kraut around campus and wondering how he was doing—though, seeing photos pop up on Betsey’s Facebook page did help and assure me that he was still going.

I’ve told countless people, but I don’t think I ever told him, that Kraut is the reason why I am the writer/proofreader/communications professional I am today. I had been a public school kid who thought she was a decent writer—until coming to D-E in 9th grade and not being placed in Honors English both freshman and sophomore years. But that actually turned out for the best, as I was fortunate enough to be in Kraut’s 10th grade English class. He taught me everything I know about grammar, writing style, Shakespeare. No other English teacher, college professor, newspaper editor—no one ever came close. After nearly four decades of coaching and teaching, Kraut leaves behind not only an irreplaceable legacy of GUM and (handmade) Shakespeare manuals, but also a legion of grammar freaks, of which I am one, and damn proud of it.

Thanks, Kraut, for everything.

In Memoriam: Sonnet for Jerry Krauthamer

By John Deal, Upper School English Faculty  

Macbeth and Lear stop up all words and stand
In tongueless tribute to a friend now lost;
And widowed Gloriana doth command
Her subjects doff their tiny caps bemoss’d.
Mid-lecture, Mrs. Wingfield, eyes half-crossed,
Is hushed; and each glass animal as well;
Phil Marlowe, weather-beat and tempest-tossed,
Says this big sleep can up and go to hell.
No better houseguest in a book did dwell
Than he, our fallen friend and neighbor dear;
And every page turns blank with grief to tell
The ending of his story-rich career.
Let libraries lock tight, dust jackets sigh,
To mourn the leaf too fast to fall and die.

Click here to view a video recording of the Memorial Service.

Click here to read Kraut’s obituary featured in The Record.

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