Bio: Kramer, Vivian (2009)
Contact: R. Lipprandt
Surnames: Afkend, Kramer, Kramer-Kalum, O’Brien
----Source: The Tribune - Phonograph (Abbotsford, Clark Co. WI), Wednesday, January 21, 2009, pages 1 & 8, by Kevin O’Brien
Vivian Kramer honored at Chamber Banquet
People who have met Vivian Kramer, either as a student in one of her classes or as an employee or customer at her family’s grocery store, don’t soon forget her. Oftentimes, when she’s out running errands in the area, she’ll run into someone who recognizes her from years ago.
"I meet these people all the time, and I’m always happy when they tell me who they are, because so many times I don’t recognize them," she said.
Kramer has left a big imprint on the Abbotsford community as a business owner, educator and volunteer.
For 24 years she taught in the public system, including 12 years in the Abbotsford School District.
Her education career was interrupted a few times, though, after she and her late husband Howard bought the IGA grocery store from Clayton Afkend in 1960 and later sold it to their son Dennis, who now operates it as Kramer’s County Market.
Vivian was born in the Dorchester area, and her family moved to Abbotsford when she was in seventh grade. She earned her education degree at UW-Stevens Point and then returned there to get her master’s.
In addition to teaching in the public schools, Kramer also owned and operated her own pre-school, Learning Tree Nursery in Colby, for seven and a half years in the late 1970s. While her son has taken up the grocery business, her daughter, Cyndi Kramer-Kalum, now works at a pre-school in Marshfield.
Kramer has spent a lot of her life volunteering, starting as a Brownie Scout leader and serving on the Scouts committee for a number of years.
She continues to volunteer for Interfaith Caregivers of Clark County, which provides assistance to senior citizens in the county.
"I chose to take the church tapes and news to them," she said. "That is a very rewarding thing, because these are people who didn’t get out much, and they look forward to you coming in."
For the last two years, Kramer has been making homemade greeting cards for people in nursing homes and shut-ins who don’t usually get personal mail. She gets a lot of compliments on the cards, including from people whose loved ones have passed away.
Since 1994 she’s worked for Page Forward Volunteers for Literacy for Clark County, which teaches adults how to read and write. The influx of Hispanic immigrants to the area has kept Kramer and other tutors busy teaching English as a Second Language classes. She also serves as the organization’s treasurer.
Starting in 1972 she has sponsored two children at a time for World Vision, a Christian relief organization that helps kids and families living in poverty.
"It’s very interesting because you get the letters back from the children and it tells you about their health and what they’re doing in school," she said.
Kramer is a longtime member of Christ Lutheran Church, where she taught Sunday school for 25 years and served on the church’s board of education. She was part of a group of people who started a library at the church and is still an active member of the Priscilla Guild, a woman’s charitable group.
The Kramer family has contributed a great deal to Abbotford in recent years. After her husband passed away a scholarship was established in his name to provide money for college-bound Abbotsford graduates.
She and her husband also donated the enclosed building at Red Arrow Park to the city of Abbotsford, Wis.
Kramer has donated to the future Abbotsford Elementary building, which is set to open later this year, and was the first to donate to the new Abbotsford Public Library, which was completed in 2007.
"You know, I did all this without ever thinking about it," she said. "My son said something to me about it and I said ‘Dennis, how could I get an award? I never did that much. And he said ‘Mom, you just don’t realize how much you do.’ It’s just something you slip into and do."
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