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Bernard I.H. "Bernie" Kramer, city educator

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Bernard I.H. "Bernie" Kramer, a retired Baltimore public school vice principal who earlier had been an English department head and reading teacher, died Aug. 14 at Autumn Ridge Nursing Center in Pikesville of complications from a stroke. He was 92.

The son of Harry Krasner, a plasterer, and Vivian Levita Krasner, Bernard Herman Krasner was born in Pruzhany, Poland, which is now part of Belarus.

He was 4 when he and his family left Poland and arrived at Ellis Island in New York Harbor.

"He was quite sick on board and was given the additional name of 'Israel' to ward off the Angel of Death," a daughter, Harri J. Kramer of Bethesda, wrote in a profile of her father's life.

"As often happened in those days, immigration officials took liberties with names, or in our family's case, bad handwriting turned Krasner into Kramer," she wrote. "His legal name thereafter was Bernard I.H. Kramer.

"As children, we asked what the 'I.H.' stood for. It was many, many years later that we learned it was not, as our dad had suggested, 'Ichabod Horatio.'"

The newly arrived immigrant family traveled to Baltimore, where they settled in a home on Keyworth Avenue in the city's Lower Park Heights neighborhood.

Mr. Kramer worked while going to school.

"Famous family photographs show my dad huddled over a desk, with one lamp, in the basement, hard at work, a voracious reader and student," wrote Ms. Kramer.

"Among his favorite books was the dictionary. As the first in his family to really adapt to English quickly, he needed the dictionary to help him learn how to pronounce words correctly, because Yiddish was the only language spoken at home," she wrote. "And his impeccable diction served him well throughout his life."

A 1939 City College honors graduate, Mr. Kramer began his college studies at the University of Maryland, where he borrowed his brother's Model A Ford and commuted daily between Baltimore and College Park.

Mr. Kramer later transferred to the Johns Hopkins University, where he earned a bachelor's degree in 1943 in education. In 1951, he earned a master's degree in education from the University of Maryland, College Park.

He began his career in 1944, teaching reading and English at Roland Park Junior High School, where he remained on the faculty until 1955.

He taught reading and English at Polytechnic Institute for a year before being named English department head in 1956 at Hampstead Hill Junior High School, a position he held until 1962.

Mr. Kramer was appointed chairman of the English department at Edmondson High School in 1962, and three years later, a special assistant, also at Edmondson.

From 1968 to 1970, he was assistant principal at Edmondson. In 1972, he was appointed to a special education committee, where he served for a year. From 1972 until his retirement in 1982, he was assistant principal at Lake Clifton High School.

Mr. Kramer met his future wife, Bernice Sherman, when they were both in graduate school at Maryland. The couple married in 1948.

"They met when my mother challenged my father on a word," wrote Ms. Kramer. "From then on, it was Bernie and Bernice all the way."

"Of course the old saw held true — even back then — that the only way a teacher can support a family was to marry another teacher," Ms. Kramer wrote.

In order to supplement his salary, Mr. Kramer took on other teaching jobs. From 1955 to 1962, he taught at the City College Adult Evening Center, and from 1946 to 1972, was on the faculty of the Baltimore Hebrew Congregation's religious school.

He also taught academic writing for engineers in the evening college at Johns Hopkins from 1962 to 1982.

"He was the consummate provider," his daughter wrote.

Mr, Kramer and his family lived on Norfolk Avenue in Forest Park from 1951 to 1960, when they moved to Flagtree Lane in Milford Mill.

Mrs. Kramer, who became the chair of the English department at Western High School, died in 2001.

Mr. Kramer and his wife were active members of Baltimore Hebrew Congregation, where he was active in the brotherhood and she in the sisterhood.

He was also a member of the Brandeis Men's Club of Baltimore.

Mr. Kramer, who was a member of the Baltimore Camera Club, was an inveterate world traveler and photographer. He also was a prodigious letter writer and used a full-sized Underwood typewriter.

After the death of his wife, Mr. Kramer moved to the North Oaks Retirement Community near Owings Mills.

Services were held Aug. 17 at Sol Levinson & Bros. in Pikesville.

In addition to his daughter, Mr. Kramer is survived by a son, Joel Kramer of Ellicott City; another daughter, Ann K. Brodsky of Fairlawn, N.J.; a brother, Morton D. Kramer of Pikesville; and eight grandchildren.

fred.rasmussen@baltsun.com

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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