James Walter (“Walt”) Cramer

James Walter (“Walt”) Cramer, age 96, died of congestive heart failure at The Homestead at Logan Acres, Bellefontaine, and entered into the fullness of eternal life, on May 7, 2024. He was the youngest of five children born to the Rev. Charles Edward Cramer and Ruby Fern (McKill) Cramer. He was predeceased by his parents, his four siblings (Ruby Grace, Reba Gayle, Jesse Charles, and John Arthur), his wife Mary, and all 16 of his first cousins.

He was born in Lynchburg, Highland County, Ohio. His schooling began at the one-room school in Gordon (Darke Co.); and continued with grades 2, 3, and 4 at Fairhaven (Preble Co.); grades 5, 6, and 7 at South Lebanon (Warren Co.); 8th grade and first three years of high school at North Hampton (Clark Co.); and culminated in graduating with the York Center High School Class of 1945.

He met Mary Ruth Penhorwood after moving to York Center on June 6, 1944; they married on July 25, 1947, and they were the parents of four children, all of whom survive along with their spouses: Alan Barry (Jeffrey Bessler) of Richmond, Indiana, Carolyn Sue (Charles) Rudd of Bellefontaine, Stephen Jay (Emily Frazer Cramer) of Lebanon, and Stephanie Kay (Bruce) McLaughlin of North Royalton. Also surviving are seven grandchildren, their spouses, and seven great-grandchildren, with an eighth due in June: Andrew Rudd and John Kamea; Stephanie Rudd; James Brent and Cathleen McLaughlin (Dorothy, Aiden, and Eliana); Kevin and Erin Cramer (expecting);  Nathan and Madeline McLaughlin; Laura and Robert French (Lucy and James); and  Timothy McLaughlin; a sister-in-law, Esther Penhorwood; and nieces and nephews.

His long career as a tool and die maker began with seven years at the Harding Machine Screw Company in East Liberty, and continued with nearly four decades at Detroit Aluminum and Brass and its successors (1953-1992). Walt took up part-time farming in his 40’s, along with his full-time tool-and-die work. Walt was proud to have been awarded Patent Number 2,816,363 for his design of a rotating-base micrometer that provided variously-shaped platforms for measuring thicknesses of machined steel pieces.

Mary and Walt moved from Union to Logan County in 1955, living outside West Mansfield for some 25 years before moving to their farm in Jefferson Township, where they lived together until Mary went to live at Green Hills in early 2017 until her death on September 9, 2018.

Walt was a “preacher’s kid,” moving frequently as his father was appointed to various Methodist churches throughout southwestern and west central Ohio. He believed he was born in the same parsonage as the renowned preacher Dr. Norman Vincent Peale. He professed Christ at an early age and was a loyal member of the Methodist Church throughout his life, seventy-some years of which were at the Bethel Church near West Mansfield, until its closure in 2019. Most recently, he belonged to the Walnut Grove Methodist Church.

Walt lived a vibrant Christian life—but not without faults or vulnerabilities—and strived to teach by example as well as precept. He was deeply spiritual and maintained a daily devotional practice throughout his life. He had a beautiful baritone voice, loved singing the hymns of the church, and occasionally joined other men of the church in an ensemble (including especially his brother John, Jim Weiser, and Larry Davis.)

The church was Walt’s life. He ministered in various capacities, serving as a Board member and Sunday School Superintendent, and serving several years on the Boards of Youth for Christ and Camp Union. He was also a Boy Scout leader in the footsteps of his father and uncle Paul, serving as Scoutmaster of Troop 70 in West Mansfield.

Walt loved to travel and camp, and the family took many camping vacations. He had aspired to travel in all 50 states. The quest ended with his and Mary’s travel by car to Alaska, the 49th state, in celebration of their 49th wedding anniversary, ending shy of the 50th state, Hawaii. He also traveled in Mexico and Canada. He loved baseball, which he played throughout his school years, and slow-pitch softball, which he played as an adult on company-sponsored teams, and he was a fan of the Cincinnati Reds.

Walt was a resident of The Homestead at Logan Acres for the last couple of years of his life. The family is immensely grateful to the staff of The Homestead and of Universal Home Health and Hospice Care for the care he received in his final days.

Services to celebrate Walt’s life will be held at 11:00 A.M. Monday, May 13, 2024, at the York Center United Methodist Church, 28170 St. Rte. 739 West Mansfield. Reverend David Moore and Reverend Steven Fewell will officiate and burial will follow next to his wife at the York Center Cemetery.  Friends may call from 3:00-5:00 P.M. Sunday, May 12, 2024, at the Wilson Funeral Home, Schnurrenberger Chapel 222 W. Center St. West Mansfield, and also prior to the service on Monday from 10:00-11:00 A.M. at the church. Memorial contributions can be made to the Asbury Theological Seminary in the care of the funeral home. Condolences may be sent to the family at www.wilsonfuneralhomesinc.com