Joanne C. Kramer was a beloved daughter, sister, wife, mother, grandmother and friend of God. Throughout her life, Joanne’s faith and family were very important to her, and it showed in the life she lived. She was dedicated and hardworking, diligent and generous. Within her home, workplace, church and community, she demonstrated her strength of character and vibrant spirit.
Joanne was born to Karl W. and Cecilia (Domski) Doll at St. Anne’s Hospital in Chicago, Illinois on July 16, 1928. At that time, America was recovering from the First World War and enjoying industrial prosperity spurred, in part, by immigrants coming from Europe. Cecilia’s family came from Poland and Karl’s descendents were French Canadians who established the Dearborn Trading Post before Chicago was settled. By the end of the decade, the stock market crash made life difficult for many families, yet the ensuing crisis also shaped the character of its citizens.
Joanne herself knew what it meant to experience hardship, but she was also positive and resilient. Throughout her life she was plagued with health issues, beginning at six months of age, when she contracted spinal meningitis. At age eight, she developed rheumatic fever. A second episode at age seventeen contributed to heart problems in later years; she also became a breast cancer survivor. Looking at her, friends and family described Joanne as small but tough. She believed that a person had to play the hand she was dealt, and she never complained. Couple that attitude with her strong Catholic faith, and Joanne was empowered to meet any of life’s challenges.
Joanne’s life was also influenced by her family. All her life, she was close to her parents and older brother John “Jack,” both emotionally and locationally. The family lived in a two flat (duplex) in a north Chicago neighborhood, where Joanne completed her education upon graduation from high school. Though she wanted to go to college to become a teacher, it was more necessary that she work. Instead, Jack went to college and Joanne got a job as a key punch operator (a punch card data entry system, widely used until the 1970s). Operators were in high demand, and with her speed and efficiency, Joanne easily found employment with several companies, Time Life and the Railroad Retirement Board, to name a few. She lived with her parents in the two flat, and when they died within a short time of each other, Joanne continued to live in the family home. At one point, Jack moved into the lower flat, and brother and sister retained their close ties.
A few blocks from Joanne’s home was a diner on the corner of Irving and Pulaski. It was there that her friend arranged for her to meet a man who frequented the diner. Philip Kramer lived a half block from the diner in a small room above the Mee & Ramee Funeral Home, where he was employed as a chauffer. Their first meeting sparked a courtship that lasted a year. Phil and Joanne were married in a civil ceremony on July 17, 1960, and Phil joined Joanne in the family home.
Joanne and Phil were blessed with two children—David and Linda—and because Jack and his family lived in the lower flat, the young cousins became very close as well. All the children have fond memories of those years in the two flat.
In 1970, Joanne, Phil and the kids moved to a Chicago brick bungalow on Grace Street. It was not only a difficult move emotionally, but maintenance on the street was practically nonexistent, and they constantly had water in the basement when it rained. Joanne had her first mitral valve surgery in 1983, and all seemed well until a few months later when Philip was diagnosed with mouth cancer. After a prolonged, two year battle with cancer, Philip died in 1985. The struggle brought Joanne closer to David and Linda.
Then in 1997, Joanne committed to moving and she settled in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Condo living was good for Joanne at that time, because she finally had a “room with a view,” an off-street parking space and no big-house maintenance. In addition, she found a new cardiologist and had surgery to repair her heart’s mitral valve. She felt like she had a new lease on life.
As it turned out, the move to Milwaukee was a turning point in Joanne’s life. She became a member of Three Holy Women Parish and was very invested in the life of the church. She joined a prayer group and the membership of East Side Quilters, and was involved in other church and neighborhood activities. She also became an employee of her daughter Linda. In essence, Joanne reinvented herself, with the parish becoming the center of her life, and she remained very active until a week before she died.
Kramer, Joanne C. (nee Doll), of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, formerly of Chicago, IL, passed away Sunday, August 23, 2009 at the age of 81.
With all of Joanne’s roots and most of her life spent in Chicago, “Milwaukee became home.” Still, wherever she was, Joanne’s heart was always with her beloved family, who now keep her always in their hearts.
Joanne is the cherished mother of David Kramer and Linda Kramer (John Shaw). Loving grandmother of Paul Kramer; dear sister of Jack Doll of Chicago, Il. She is further survived by other relatives and friends. Joanne was preceded in death by her beloved husband Philip Kramer. Visitation is scheduled for Wednesday, August 26 at Three Holy Women Parish – Holy Rosary Church 2011 N. Oakland Avenue Milwaukee, WI 53202 from 5:00 PM until time of the Funeral Mass at 7:00 PM. Interment at All Saints Cemetery DesPlaines, IL. In lieu of flowers memorials to Three Holy Women Parish Legacy Fund or Gilda’s Club. Please visit www.lifestorynet.com to leave a memory or photo of Joanne or to sign the online guest book. The family was served by Suminski Family Funeral Homes, Suminski / Weiss (414) 276-5122.