Harold Cramer, Philadelphia Law Community Pioneer, Dies at 90

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Harold Cramer | Photo provided

Harold Cramer’s influence in law was far and wide, said his daughter Patricia Cramer, spanning across Philadelphia in the legal, health care and Jewish communities.

Harold Cramer died Sept. 1 at the age of 90.

“He was the forerunner in really serving your clients and getting to know their business and their industry, and he became a trusted adviser and confidant beyond just the day-to-day lawyer work,” Patricia Cramer said.

“He was also the last of a dying breed being active in the Philadelphia community, the legal community, including the Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and the American Bar Associations. He was active in all of them with leadership roles.”

A graduate of Central High School, Temple University and the University of Pennsylvania Law School, Harold Cramer was drafted into the Army in 1951, where he served in Korea as a commissioned officer, attended the Judge Advocate General’s School and became the chief prosecutor for the Eighth Army. He was also awarded the Bronze Star.

Upon returning from his service, Harold Cramer clerked for President Judge O. Lewis of the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas.

He joined Shapiro Rosenfeld Stalberg & Cook in 1955 and eventually became a partner. In 1967, he joined Mesirov, Gelman, Jaffe & Levin and became managing partner.

Harold Cramer later turned his voluntary chairman of the board position into CEO of Graduate Health System, Inc., which included five hospitals in Pennsylvania, two in New Jersey and a health maintenance organization.

“To this day, people will come up to me and say, ‘I worked at Graduate Hospital. I knew your dad. I was in IT or I was a facilities manager or I was in housekeeping,’” Patricia Cramer said. “And he was someone that they all admired, and … they felt recognized as individuals.”

The company was acquired by Allegheny Health, Education, and Research Foundation in 1996, and later merged as part of Penn Medicine.

He returned to Mesirov as of counsel, and when it merged with Schnader in 2000, he became a counsel and retired partner.

From then until 2017, he served as director of Penn National Gaming, Inc.

“My dad loved the practice of law,” she said. “He took his responsibilities to his clients as seriously as one should. His integrity, his ethics and his moral compass were incredible.”

Harold Cramer held many leadership positions, including with the College of Physicians of Philadelphia, Mayor’s Commission on Health, American Law Institute, Philadelphia Bar Foundation, Pennsylvania Bar Association and American Bar Association.

He was also legal division president of American Friends of The Hebrew University, Reform Congregation Keneseth Israel trustee, Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia trustee, Jewish Publishing Group president, trustee and president of the Jewish Publication Society, co-founder of Jewish Law Day, and president of the board of the Theodore F. Jenkins Memorial Law Library.

“My dad was a very humble man. He didn’t speak of accomplishments as something that he made happen,” Patricia Cramer said.

Harold Cramer is survived by his daughter and his wife, Geraldine, who he celebrated 60 years of marriage with in July.

Contributions may be made to the Jewish Family and Children’s Service of Greater Philadelphia.

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