Cover photo for Gloria Dianne Cramer's Obituary
Gloria Dianne Cramer Profile Photo
1931 Gloria 2022

Gloria Dianne Cramer

March 6, 1931 — February 22, 2022

Gloria Cramer, beloved mother and grandmother, great-grandmother, sister and friend, entered the gates of Heaven when she passed away suddenly on February 22, 2022, at the age of 90, just days before her 91st
birthday. She lived a rich and full life before the onset of Alzheimer’s several years ago.

Gloria was predeceased by her devoted husband Ray in 2010 and predeceased by her brothers Franklin (1989) and Gene (2022).

She is survived by her four children: David (Anne) Cramer of Fredericksburg, VA; Katherine (Philip) Ward-Ayliffe of Brighton, ON; Deborah (Douglas) Black of Mansfield, TX; and Jonathan (Debbie) Cramer of Springfield, VA, her brother Charles (Janet) Miller of Stonersville, PA; and her sister-in-law Joan Miller of Reading, PA.

Gloria left the legacy of seventeen grandchildren: Briana Cramer, Jesse (Amy) Black, Megan Apperson, Zachary (Erin)Ward, Joshua (Kristin) Black, Kristiana (Johannes) Finnsson, Jake (Megan) Cramer, Jeremy (Caitlin) Black, Caleb (Claire) Ward, Emily Cramer, Farrah (Jeff) Williams, Parker Ayliffe, Patty (Donny) Bush, Chris (Nicole) Andrzejewski, Tim (Rory) Griffiths, Annie (Stanton) Coffey, Beth (Juan) Galindo; and twenty-nine great-grandchildren; as well as numerous nieces, nephews and cousins.

A Celebration of Life for Gloria is scheduled for June 15, 2022, at St. John’s Lutheran Church in Mansfield, Texas.

1931-2022
“First came the date of birth, and the following date with tears,
what mattered most of all was the dash between those years.
That dash represents all the time they spent alive on earth,
and now only those who loved them
Know what that little line is worth.”
(Poem by Linda Ellis)

Gloria Dianne Cramer certainly made the most of her dash. It’s daunting to attempt to give a summary of her remarkable life in a few words.

Gloria Dianne Cramer, nee Miller, was born in Reading, Pennsylvania, to Charles and Grace Miller of Amity Township on March 6, 1931, the oldest of four children. From a young girl on a farm in Pennsylvania Dutch Country, Gloria went on to a remarkable life; a life that made a difference, a life well lived. After graduation from Oley High School, she worked in Reading with a photographer, where she met her husband, Ray. They married in 1956, and had four children together: David, Katherine, Deborah and Jonathan.

With their young family living in Nichols, New York, Ray accepted a job with USOM (which evolved into USAID). Gloria, Ray and family moved to Seoul, South Korea for several years, then to Bangkok, Thailand for a couple of years, on to Nairobi, Kenya for four and a half years, and to Accra, Ghana for two years before returning to live in the USA, settling in Alexandria, Virginia, and for a short time in Dale City, Virginia. During her years overseas, life was a mixture of the unknown, diversity, and adventure; often unpredictable but Gloria faced adversity with courage, as she navigated new locations, cultures, languages and communities with a young and busy family. She quickly learned the logistics involved in moving a family of six, again and again. Unexpected regular occurrences like dusty potholed roads, power cuts, snakes and flying termites, family illness, conflict between household staff, and four children who each dealt differently with frequent moves…Gloria managed to overcome these with grace and inner strength. Her firm commitment to God gave her an unshakeable belief in the power of prayer, she found truth in the saying “when you kneel before God, He stands up for you.”

Several years after “settling” in Northern Virginia, empty-nesters Gloria and Ray were offered a second tour of duty in Kenya where they returned in 1979; and were thrilled to be offered the same house in Nairobi where the family had lived and left behind five years before. Leaving Kenya for the second time in 1983, Gloria and Ray retired to live in Pottstown, Pennsylvania, for the first time living near their families of origin. In 1996 they moved south to Fredericksburg, Virginia and their final move was to Mansfield, Texas in 2003.

Gloria’s experiences and relationships spanned oceans and crossed borders. Even today, her two closest friends live in Fairbanks, Alaska, and Staffordshire, England…despite the distance, she was always a faithful friend, visiting when she could. Regular correspondence was Gloria’s strength as she took the time to keep in touch with people dear to her. A friend of Gloria’s was a friend for life; she never met a stranger.

As a young wife and mother, Gloria was prepared to see the world with her husband and children, to discover new places and people. At every posting she became involved with the expatriate community, as well as giving her time to community-based groups for disadvantaged and impoverished local residents. With her compassionate and outgoing nature, Gloria was known for her soft voice, gentle smile and meeting the needs of others.

A church connection first led Gloria to visit an orphanage in the mountains outside of Seoul; she became a regular volunteer there where she was appreciated by the staff and children. Her generosity of spirit and willingness to help was a wonderful example to her own children. She was a steady constant in our lives, showing her devotion to her family, to God and to people in need. To many, throughout her life, Gloria acted as the hands and feet of Jesus.

In Thailand, Gloria played an active part at the International Chapel, and the American Women’s group. With Ray posted to Saigon while the family lived in Bangkok, Gloria managed as a single mother much of the time.

Living in Kenya, Gloria was active with the American Women’s Association, directing the Women’s Chorus, serving as AWA Chairman, visiting sick children at Kenyatta National Hospital and volunteering to meet the needs of neglected and marginalized Kenyans. For a time, Gloria was known as the “Kuku Memsahib” (meaning Chicken Lady in Kiswahili), because she offered our home as a pick-up point for Mr. Baxendale selling fresh chickens from Naivasha. At the Kenya National Theatre, Gloria performed in Hello Dolly and other concerts.

Certainly, one of Gloria’s favorite adventures in East Africa was going on safari to any of East Africa’s abundant and spectacular game parks. How she loved finding and watching the wildlife, in awe of the amazing landscapes and beautiful people she met on the way. With their cameras, Gloria and Ray could spend hours sitting in the car, quietly observing a family of lions, elephants, a leopard in a tree, playful cheetah cubs, gazelle, zebra and giraffe on the savannahs. Camping or staying at one of the game lodges, Gloria was happy either way; another important example for her family, to respect our host country, the land, animals and people.

In 1973, upon learning of a need for housing at Uhuru Highway Lutheran Church, Gloria and Ray offered their home to four young people from the USA who arrived in Kenya with a Christian singing group. The Crossfire Team had a complicated performance schedule confirmed in East Africa, now they had a home away from home. For several months, our house became even busier; with Ray and Gloria, four children, four young adults, a couple of dogs and cats, even a bushbaby. That was the essence of Gloria, to reach out to others, to invite them to join the family.

Everywhere we lived, our mother affectionately welcomed our friends, providing snacks, a place to have fun, a listening and encouraging ear. To know Gloria, with her innate kindness and soft-spoken manner, was to love her. She has a much-loved honorary granddaughter whom she has bonded with since birth, and more children whom she mothered, in addition to her own four. Her open heart and arms included everyone. In the humble way she cared for others, often with no one noticing, Gloria was an inspiration.

One of her greatest challenges was their posting in Ghana when all four children were away at boarding school. Gloria eagerly looked forward to her children coming home for school breaks and was involved with the local community. For the USA’s Bicentennial celebration in Accra in 1976, she sang the National Anthem with Shirley Temple Black, then the US Ambassador to Ghana.

Music…it’s impossible to forget how much Gloria loved music. Highly skilled at both the piano and singing, she filled our house with music; Broadway show tunes, folk songs, Christian hymns and choruses, and classical music. (It seemed her musical gifts skipped a generation to be shared by several grandchildren). From a young woman who often sang duets with her brother Charles, Gloria had the voice of an angel and loved to sing. Years later, she performed with her granddaughter on several occasions. If there was not a choir or chorus already in place where we lived, Gloria simply formed a singing group. She often played as accompanist at church and was asked to perform as a soloist on numerous occasions. On the USS Cleveland for a week’s voyage from Yokohama to San Francisco, Gloria organized and entered her four children in a Talent Show, she always kept us busy!

A lifelong Christian and a godly woman, Gloria raised her children with Christian values. No matter where we lived or what was happening, if it was Sunday; Gloria, Ray and their children were in church. Throughout her itinerant life, Gloria was active in many ecumenical churches: Amityville United Church Christ, (Pennsylvania), South Post Chapel Yongsan Base (South Korea), the International Community Chapel of Bangkok (Thailand), Uhuru Highway Lutheran Church (Kenya), Trinity Lutheran Church Tema (Ghana), Nativity Lutheran Church Alexandria (Virginia), Resurrection Lutheran Church Fredericksburg (Virginia), Advent Lutheran Church Arlington (Texas) and St. John’s Lutheran Church Mansfield (Texas), and others. Her faithfulness to God was evident in her life; Gloria left her mark in many places, giving God the glory always.

Gloria took a genuine interest in people, she certainly earned her nickname of “Gloria Goodheart”, (although I believe her favorite name was simply Mom), and was known for her bright smile, elegant and delicious dinner parties, and genuine warmth. As a proud USAID wife, she was a dedicated homemaker, unusually adept at being able to transform plain and sometimes drab housing into a warm and cozy welcoming family home…and then pack it all up again and do the same for our next posting, sometimes on the other side of the world! She competently created homes for her family in the small town of Nichols, on the Yongsan Military Base, on Soi Sangwan Suk, on Davidson Road in Westland's, in the suburbs of Accra, and in Alexandria, to name a few. She had a wonderful, some might say corny and wholesome, sense of humor, and was creative, caring and kind. Gloria saw beauty in everything, was eternally optimistic and left an impression on others. Hardships were something she dealt with and overcame; Gloria was happiest and content when the family was together.

Her sweet tooth meant that Gloria loved baking, especially chocolate. Christmas couldn't be celebrated without her special Chocolate Sugar Cookies, a family recipe. (Or without her singing O Holy Night). An avid reader, Gloria also enjoyed live theater, symphony orchestras and concerts, British comedies and historical dramas, Bible Study and lively discussion groups. Her favorite game was Scrabble, always eager to play with a bowl of pretzels nearby.

Gloria and Ray enjoyed road trips, and long drives, sometimes for an afternoon or day trip, and often ventured to several states and across borders. She was the unwavering support and anchor behind her husband and children, always there for us to share laughter and tears. She was a woman of faith and character, and the heart of our family. Gloria cared deeply for her family, friends, neighbors and strangers, not out of obligation but because of who she was; an inspiring and insightful woman. Long after Gloria and Ray left their home in Nairobi, she continued to take an interest in and sponsor education for several Kenyan young people, to ensure their future was brighter; she saw the promise and possibilities for each one.

Gloria was known for her devotion to our family pets, a deep love for animals, and she collected one or two in her journey around the world. Spencer the dachshund accompanied the family each country; cats and dogs who needed homes found their way to her. Gloria made them part of the family and gave them names like Chui, Cinnamon and Rafiki to name a few. Ray often said that he wished Gloria showed him as much affection as she did to her cats and dogs!

Gloria was a patriot, a proud American wherever she lived. She was a loving mother, devoted grandmother and interested great-grandmother; proud of the legacy she and Ray had built together in their family.

With her sincere concern and understanding for those around her, Gloria gave us so much, in her own quiet way she was a wise woman. Thoughtfulness, decency and a high moral standard were obvious throughout her life; Gloria was truly a Proverbs 31 woman. She valued loyalty, honesty, and authenticity. To her family and friends, she gave us these lasting gifts and memories of a blessed and beautiful life. Our mother was a singular person, one of a kind, and to be loved by her was to be truly blessed. She loved fiercely and unconditionally, and to say that her family and friends will miss her greatly is an understatement.

Gloria was respected and honored in every community she lived; and will be remembered and loved by many. A life well lived, and now resting in the arms of Jesus, together with her beloved husband and so many dear friends gone before her. Gloria left quite an imprint on our hearts, a hole which will never be filled.

Truly, we were blessed with the best. Certainly, Gloria was met at Heaven’s gates with the words of Jesus, in Matthew 25:21…” well done, good and faithful servant”.

“Death leaves a heartache no one can heal; love leaves a legacy no one can steal”

In lieu of flowers, please donate to the animal shelter in your community, or send a memorial gift to Africa Exchange through Network for Good, Kenya.

https://l.facebook.com/l.php?u=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.nfggive.org%2Fdonation%2F54-1850816%3Ffbclid%3DIwAR10ZjqsGQX12Caf3nEcA3Uh9fNDmG7GgR3hvuN-YW1wcdX_0X7yo_8F9Lo&h=AT1Lfx1OaW0aDOZ1eqg2btTfqrYUhiMmukfQAsqZt5C-LgkugmFwvURCln98kDVcmJRrbR8YgICoWTgUv0T78y2wef60KlE1-3zyLqOqkt0WE4iHwfW4L-XonQSsakW_G30Aa09Q7kGoZqn5T8U

Another option for those who would like to contribute to the educational sponsorship of Kenyan children whom Gloria knew and supported, the children of Patrick Wabwire; Quinta, Sara and Christine. Robert, also supported by Gloria, is graduating university this year. (Primary schools are subsidized by the Kenyan government but secondary school and university fees are left to the family.) A memorial donation can be sent directly to the Wabwire family at:
https://www.paypal.com/donate/?hosted_button_id=WKE4WVV38XGRG
To send flowers to the family in memory of Gloria Dianne Cramer, please visit our flower store.

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