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Eulogy for Lud Kramer by Ralph Munro

HistoryLink.org Essay 5694 : Printer-Friendly Format

This eulogy for A. Ludlow "Lud" Kramer (1932-2004) was given by Ralph Munro at Lud Kramer's memorial service at St. John's Cathedral in Spokane on April 16, 2004. Lud Kramer became the youngest Secretary of State in Washington history when elected in 1964 at age 32. A moderate Republican, he championed the rights of the poor and minorities and pushed for reforms in housing, prisons, and the electoral system. Lud Kramer died of lung cancer on April 9, 2004. Ralph Munro served as Washington Secretary of State from 1981 through 2001.

Lud Kramer by Ralph Munro

The Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King Jr. was dead. He had been gunned down on the balcony of a cheap hotel in Memphis Tennessee in April while trying to settle a garbage workers strike.

It was just 61 days later that Bobby Kennedy was assassinated in the kitchen of the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angles…………. with the smell of victory from the California Primary still in the air.

And a few months later ……….

The popular and respected head of the Seattle Urban League, our friend Ed Pratt,………… answered his door in North Seattle and died in a hale of bullets on his own front porch.

Many of Americas East Coast cities were in flames and riots were a daily occurrence reported on the front pages of our papers.

In July we had some unusually hot weather. Seattle was "cooking" and so was the Central Area. Young blacks …………… angry, disgusted and disillusioned …………. were gathering nightly at the corner of 23rd and East Union. The air was thick with the threat of violence.

Two nights beforehand, as the alarm bells rang at the fire station just up the street at Yesler and 23rd, Engine Company Number 6, ran into a flurry of bullets as the ladder truck rounded the corner and headed toward Providence Hospital. There were NO African American firefighters in the entire city.

As the evening wore on and the sun went down, the temperature seemed to remain hot. It was nearly 80 degrees at 9 30 at night.

The friend that I was with that evening was a Youth Violence Prevention Coordinator working for the Seattle YWCA. She was 20 years old but could convert her looks to 14 or to 28 in a matter of seconds. Her job was to wade into the crowd and settle things down. Prevent violence. Especially among youth. As I dropped her off at 22nd and Union, she told me to hang back, but stay and watch if I wanted to. I stayed to watch.

The situation was more than difficult. Young African American’s were angry and sought revenge. The Mayor and Police Chief hadn’t been very helpful in dealing with them and the burden seemed to be carried by Governor Dan Evans and his 37 year old Secretary of State, Lud Kramer. These two elected officials were breaking all the rules. Meeting with African American leadership, calling for new job programs, demanding that fire and police begin the programs to integrate the departments, appearing at Central Area churches for the Sunday night socials, setting up job centers and opening the community college system to young blacks.

The labor unions were furious. What right did LUD KRAMER have to tell them how to run their show.

What business is it of his that the pipefitters, electrical workers, steel workers, carpenters and the sheet metal workers do not have ONE member of African American heritage.

"You can tell Kramer to cram it where the sun doesn’t shine. It is none of his damn business."

And the "Lud the Dud" bumper strips were handed out at the Labor Temple on First Avenue.

One of the SNCC [Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee] workers was now standing on the hood of a car. "It is time we SHOW this city that we MEAN BUSINESS. Perhaps if we BURN a few buildings, then those white zombies at City Hall will wake up."

I saw my friend working her way into the crowd. Violence was in the air. The bubble was about to burst.

Suddenly a black four-door sedan crept into the intersection. It had come through the police lines on Madison and slowly worked its way up to the intersection and the crowd.

Out of the back door climbed a little guy. All alone, no police or detectives at his side. Shoulders slightly hunched over, a cigarette hanging out of his mouth. Slowly he worked his way toward the center of the crowd.

In a voice dripping with sarcasm, the SNCC organizer shouted:

“Well lookey here. I think that is the SECRETARY OF STATE. I WONDER WHAT IN HELL HE WANTS."

Suddenly, up on the same car hood jumped Lud.

He grabbed the bullhorn and slowly looked around. I wish I had a photo of him that night. Jacket off, tie askew, shirt unbuttoned at the neck …………

"I am here to ask you to GO HOME . We are working hard to meet your needs and things are starting to change already.

"NOTHING is going to be accomplished by burning this city. I know you are frustrated, I know you are angry, I know you are disgusted with what is happening to America and Seattle, but you need to know that the Governor of this State, and our entire team are dedicated to making changes."

Slowly two other organizers in the crowd started to chant, "Bullshit, Bullshit …."

And wanted the crowd to join them, but the crowd was willing to listen.

And Lud Kramer started down the list of changes being made.

"There will be more African Americans in the Police Department. And also the State Patrol ……….. The recruiting is starting later this month. And by the way, my wife Patty and I have told the Seafair organizers that we will NOT appear in the Torchlight Parade until the Seattle Police Drill Team is integrated ... think it is going to happen.

And Lud went down the list.

The Fire Department

The School District

Edison Tech and the Community College

The University of Washington

The Welfare Department

The Department of Vocational Services

Voter Registration

Job Services

And the Unions. "Yes we are going to do everything possible, even if it takes legislation, to make those guys let you into their union."

And slowly the crowd began to melt away.

Some of the kids actually stayed and wanted his autograph, to shake his hand ......... to receive a slap on the back.

I walked over to Lud's car and thanked him. He looked up at me, smiled and said, "Its all in a days work, my boy. We have a whole lot of stuff to talk with the Governor about tomorrow."

And that was the Lud Kramer that I knew for many many years.

So what is Lud's legacy. Besides these four wonderful children, and their kids.

Well its pretty interesting.

Sam Reed, Secretary of State,

Ralph Munro, Secretary of State,

Bruce Chapman, Secretary of State,

Glen Hudson, Lead Lobbyist for the Realtors and wonderful community leader,

Pete De Launey, President of his Public Affairs firm in Seattle,

Jim Waldo, the best salmon, fish and water guy in our state,

Franklin Raines, Budget director for President William Jefferson Clinton,

Art Fletcher, the highest ranking black in the administration of President Gerald R. Ford,

Stuart Elway, best pollster on the West Coast,

Governor Mike Lowry, former head of the 19 year old vote committee,

Chuck Robinson, United State Marshall,

Mel Tonasket, Chairman of the Colville nation,

John Fratt, builder of the Port of Kalama,

Cindy Hauff, a top administrator in the Washington State Community College system,

Ron Sims, former intern and now King County Executive and Candidate for Governor,

Senator Dick Hemstad, serving on the Washington Utility and Transportation Commission,

Norm Davis, Director of our states Division of Developmental Disabilities,

Steve Excell, former Assistant to Governor John Spellman and now Assistant Secretary of State,

Geisela Tabor, now a successful minister in the United Methodist Church,

Dennis Weber, Mayor of Longview,

Priscilla Lisicich, Director of Safe Streets in Tacoma,

Lupe Gamboa, head of the Farm Workers Union in Washington State,

Stan Warswick, Superior Court Judge,

Successful business leaders like John Mosier,

Sally Mathison, high-ranking attorney for the U.S. Department of State,

Paul Thomas, who went on to build a business in winemaking,

Rollie Cole, now the Executive Director of the Software Patent Institute in Indianapolis,

Gretchen Borck, now Director of the Washington Wheat Growers Association,

And in many ways every black elected official in Seattle, Tacoma, Spokane, Everett, The Tri Cities, Olympia, Lacey, and Bremerton.

And every Mexican American mayor and city or county councilmember from Wenatchee to Pasco.

And the list goes on and on and on

So there is one final thought

I just want you kids ……… and you grandkids ……… to know that your dad and your grandpa was …………… a TRUE , BLUE American hero.

Sources:
Ralph Munro offered this eulogy at Lud Kramer's memorial service at St. John's Cathedral in Spokane on April 16, 2004.


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