Skip To Content
We’ve Taken Down the Forward Paywall: An Open Letter to Our ReadersRead Now

Donald Kraft, 92, Mathematician With Lifelong Zest For Learning

(JTA) — The conversation around Donald Kraft’s Shabbat dinner table was always wide ranging and unpredictable.

Some weeks he would marvel at the wonders of a granddaughter’s high school calculator. Other times it might be the latest columns by Mike Royko and Erma Bombeck or the old Israeli oil lamps he collected along with fossils, clocks and personal computers. Once he contemplated the weight that a steel tube could hold before it collapses.

A mathematician who worked at IBM for decades, Kraft enjoyed speaking in acronyms long before texting became a thing. When the family went out to a nice dinner or away on vacation, he’d ask “DYDTYTNP?” Translation: Did your dad take you to nice places?

“He had an insatiable curiosity for everything,” his daughter Lisa Gerol said.

Kraft, who died of COVID-19 on Dec. 9 at the age of 92, maintained his zest for learning even after moving with his wife, Gloria, to an assisted living facility. He launched a lecture program there, and in November participated in a biblical archaeology convention held remotely.

Not long after, both he and Gloria were infected with the coronavirus. Gloria recovered, but Kraft was hospitalized the day before Thanksgiving.

The couple was married for 64 years, during which they sailed on 49 cruises and made several trips to Israel. They loved dancing, beginning with their first date in Florida, when they danced the mambo.

Kraft was born and raised in Huntington, West Virginia, the youngest of four siblings. He graduated with honors from Vanderbilt University and after earning a master’s degree and doing two years of postgraduate work in math, went to work as a civilian employee with the U.S. Air Force in computational research.

He and Gloria eventually settled in Skokie, Illinois, where they raised three daughters and were active at Am Yisrael Congregation in nearby Northfield. Kraft served on the boards of the Skokie and North Suburban public libraries, where as early as the 1960s he led efforts to computerize their operations.

In addition to his wife and daughters, Kraft leaves six grandchildren.

The post Donald Kraft, 92, mathematician with lifelong zest for learning appeared first on Jewish Telegraphic Agency.


Republish This Story

Please read before republishing

We’re happy to make this story available to republish for free, unless it originated with JTA, Haaretz or another publication (as indicated on the article) and as long as you follow our guidelines. You must credit the Forward, retain our pixel and preserve our canonical link in Google search.  See our full guidelines for more information, and this guide for detail about canonical URLs.

To republish, copy the HTML by clicking on the yellow button to the right; it includes our tracking pixel, all paragraph styles and hyperlinks, the author byline and credit to the Forward. It does not include images; to avoid copyright violations, you must add them manually, following our guidelines. Please email us at [email protected], subject line “republish,” with any questions or to let us know what stories you’re picking up.

We don't support Internet Explorer

Please use Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or Edge to view this site.