Gordon (Gordie) Armstrong Kraft, 82, of Lancaster, passed away peacefully with his family at his side on March 4, 2023. He was the loving husband of the late Yvonne E. (Leggett) Kraft who preceded him in death in November of 2022.
Born in Lancaster, PA, he was the son of the late Edward C. Kraft, Sr. and Anna E. (McMillen) Kraft.
Known for his winning approach, moral compass, and class as a student, athlete, math teacher, and coach, Gordie was a standout in all facets of his life – be it at J.P. McCaskey High School, Franklin & Marshall College, with family and friends, at First Reformed Church, or a trout stream.
Gordie was a 1958 graduate of McCaskey where he was an outstanding student and athlete. Besides being president of the National Honor Society and co-sports editor of the Vidette school newspaper, he earned varsity letters in football, swimming, and track & field in each of his three years at McCaskey.
As a senior, he was a member of the Central Penn League championship football team, earning first-team all-league honors as a center and linebacker. In swimming, he was a member of McCaskey’s state champion 200-yard freestyle relay team. In track & field, he was a place-winner in the shot put and javelin at the District 3 championships.
Gordie then attended Franklin & Marshall College where, with freshmen being ineligible for varsity sports, he participated in three years of football and track & field and two years of swimming. He was captain of the football and track & field team during his senior year. He still owns a top-10 javelin throw at F&M at over 200’. He was named the school’s senior outstanding athlete, was a member of the Black Pyramid Honor Society and received the Harbold Award for being the most promising teacher. He graduated in 1962, the same year he returned to McCaskey and began a legendary 35-year as a math teacher and coach.
For nearly all of those years, Gordie was a prominent assistant football coach, except for a short time in 1975 where he served as the interim head coach. In 1994 he was recognized by the Pennsylvania Scholastic Football Coaches Association for his contributions and dedications to high school football. In addition, he spent 28 years as the head boys’ track & field coach and 17 years as the head girls’ coach. His boys’ teams had an overall dual-meet record of 272-14. They were undefeated in 19 of those seasons, league champions 23 times, won 19 section titles, eleven district titles and won second in the PIAA Championships three times (1983, 85, and 89). His girls’ teams were 104-68 in dual meets, had four unbeaten seasons, four section titles, three L-L League meet titles, four District 3 championships, and two PIAA Championships (1992, 93). Combined during his tenure, the boys and girls won 14 gold medals at the PA state championships.
He also served three seasons as McCaskey’s head swimming coach and was a PIAA swimming and diving official for over 40 years. He was Eden Manor summer swim team’s personal starter for decades.
Gordie was a committed member of First Reformed UCC in Lancaster for his entire life. He served on the Consistory/Leadership Team and was a Chairman of the Property Committee, a church elder, deacon, trustee, and usher captain. He was also the treasurer, a Sunday School teacher, donation counter, volunteer for community breakfasts, captain of the “Hanging of the Greens,” and swung a big bat for the FRC fast-pitch softball team.
He received the Red Rose Award from the Lancaster New Era in 1997 and the George Kirchner Memorial Award from the Lancaster Sportswriters and Broadcasters in 1999. He was honored as a Distinguished Alumnus of McCaskey in 2000.
Gordie was a member of the McCaskey Sports Hall of Fame, the L-L League Sports Hall of Fame, the Susquehanna Valley Chapter of the Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame, the Lancaster County Sports Hall of Fame, and the Pennsylvania Voters Hall of Fame. He would hope to be inducted into the Four Oaks Fishing Hall of Fame as well.
He is survived by his children: Heidi Kraft, G. Douglas Kraft (husband of Terry), and Zachary Kraft (husband of Becky) all of Lancaster; grandchildren, Riley and McKenna Kraft, Jordan and Justin Baker, and David Kamwanga. Also surviving are his sisters, Susan Huston (wife of Curt) and Christine Diehl (wife of Robert). He is predeceased by his siblings, Mary Ann Williams, Karen Kraft, Edward Kraft, Jr., and Charles Kraft.
A Celebration of Life Service will take place at First Reformed Church, 40 E. Orange Street, Lancaster, PA 17602 on Saturday, April 15 at 3:00 p.m.
Guests are invited to pay their respects to the family at the church on Friday, April 14th from 4:00-7:00 p.m. or the 15th from 1:30 p.m. up to the start of the service.
In lieu of flowers, contributions in Gordie’s memory may be made to the First Reformed Church, 40 E. Orange St, Lancaster, PA 17602.
To view the service virtually, please click the following link: https://my.gather.app/remember/gordon-kraft
To leave an online condolence for the family, please visit: www.DeBordSnyder.com