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
JOE SMILEY SCHEURICH JR says
REST IN PEACE SIR. I DIDNT KNOW YOU DIRECTLY BUT YOU ARE A FELLOW TORNADO! PRAYERS TO HIS FAMILY AND FRIENDS. A VERY KIND GENTLEMAN AND A POSITIVE ROLE MODEL FOR ALL
Darla Wetzel says
Prayers to the family for their loss of an outstanding teacher he was my favorite ! R.I.P. you will be missed by many and remembered by many.
Bill Hobbs says
Gordie was just an outstanding person…a great athlete, student and teacher, he will be missed by all he touched…great family, the Krafts…knew them all for many years,
Victoria Papavasilion Lowe says
My dad was a good friend of Gordie.
My dad, Bill, “Pappy” was also a teacher at McCaskey and talked about Gordie a lot. I was told by my dad that he was a good man. My dad died 8 yrs ago. Sorry for your loss.
Arthur Elmer Morris says
I am deeply saddened by the passing of Gordie. He was such a lovely man. Always positive, friendly and kindhearted. Until recently, we would bump into each other at market and talk about the city, Barney Ewell (we chatted at the unveiling of Barney’s statue on November 19) and just about anything at all. You always felt better after seeing him.
He was a coaching legend and a proud McCaskey grad. Broad segments of Lancaster will miss him.
I was hoping to attend Gordie’s service but will be away at the time. I offer for condolences and love to Heidi, Doug, Zach and the entire family.
Mary-Elizabeth Morales says
Mr. Kraft was one of my math teachers at McCaskey. All my teachers were wonderful, but Mr. Kraft was the the only one who really got me to understand what I was learning. Maybe because it was Geometry and different from Algebra where I struggled terribly, maybe it was his style and approach. But for the first and only time in my scholastic career, including college!, I had confidence in myself as a math student. He was kind, gentle, sweet, dignified and serious and I trusted him. I’ve met many excellent educators in my life, and Mr. Kraft still stands out. May his family find peace in the memories they share of him.
Bill Poole says
Zach, Doug, and family,
I was sorry to hear about the passing of your father. He led and incredible, full life , raised wonderful children , and provided a great example for all of his students and athletes to follow.
May your happy memories of him help you and your family through this difficult time.
Bill and Alison Poole
Steve Kemp JPM ‘75 says
Great memories of my time at JP both on the football field and running track! Great respect and admiration for Coach Kraft, I so enjoyed having him as a coach and friend! My condolences with blessings to the family!
Lori Kleckner-Hagen says
Heidi, Doug and Zach,
My deepest condolences, Having recently lost my own parents I understand what you’re going through. Your father was a classmate/teammate of my own father (Dave)at McCaskey – back in the day. My Dad always spoke so highly of him. I also had the pleasure of being in your father’s geometry class and homeroom, during my own McCaskey days. He was a lovely, patient man who cared about his students. He will be greatly missed. My thoughts and prayers are with you all.
Dixie Smith says
I am so sorry to hear about Gordie’s passing. We were neighbors in Eden Manor for many, many years. I treasure the times Yvonne and I walked around the neighborhood years ago.
Gordie will be missed by many people. My condolences to Heidi, Doug and Zack and their families.