"I will endeavor to retain the spirit of youth"
~Sigma Chi Creed, George Ade ΔΔ 1887

Life Loyal Sig, Life Long Friend … A tribute to Ken Kraft '56

Ken Kraft '56

Significant Sig Kenneth H. Kraft, Jr. ’56 entered Chapter Eternal on April 16, 2015 at the age of 81 after an extended battle with cancer. Brother Kraft throughout his life exemplified the ideals of our Fraternity and made significant contributions to Delta Delta, other Sigma Chi chapters, and the International Fraternity.

Kindness and Generosity Were Always Present

His remarkable life touched many people’s lives and his kindness and generosity were always present. Ken’s legacy to Delta Delta can be seen through the Sigma Chi scholarship established in his name for Delta Delta brothers, his financial contributions to the chapter house renovation and its ongoing maintenance, the hundreds of hours he spent compiling an accurate Consul’s roster, and his willingness to answer the call whenever asked.

A True Brother and a Real Friend

Perhaps his most lasting legacy will be in the hearts of the brothers who knew him best. His Class of ’56 pledge brothers and those he guided through pledgeship as magister, the Class of ’58. When John Sand ’58 learned of Ken’s death, he wrote, "Hearing of Kenny's passing brought tears to my eyes. He was not only our excellent magister but a true brother and a real friend. He was a kind man. I will miss him."

Ken as Consul 1956

Reflections On Brother Kraft’s Memorial Service

Bernie Sergesketter ’58 and his wife, Mary, along with Sandy and Kurt Vahle ’58 and Leslie and Mark Sand ‘73, attended the Memorial Service for Brother Kraft held in Orlando, FL. Following the service Bernie sent this note to his pledge class.

"During his time on this earth, Ken touched the lives of many people. There were at least three hundred of his friends at the Service on Monday.

On the morning of April 15th I placed a call to Ken, as I had not spoken with him for awhile. He didn't answer, but he called me back in the early afternoon. I knew Jim Dora was also trying to reach Ken, so I added Jim to the call. Mary was on the call as well. The conversation lasted about twenty minutes with Ken doing much of the talking. He must have used the word love at least fifty times. He said how much he loved our class and each one of us. He talked about his love for Sigma Chi and what it meant to him throughout his life.

Ken's older daughter, Kathy, gave a beautiful eulogy. She told how Ken did not sleep well the night of April 15th. In the morning, he asked her, "How long do I have to do this?" Kathy told him he didn't have to continue. He responded positively and said, "The Holy Spirit is here." A few minutes later he closed his eyes and took his last breath.

Kathy spoke about Ken's love for Sigma Chi and referenced the Jordan Standard. She eloquently gave examples of how Ken lived his life based on that standard. There was a beautiful array of white roses at the front of the church in the shape of the White Cross.

There were many Sigs there, including Delta Delta Significant Sig Dr. Mark Sand and his lovely wife Leslie. Mark's strong arms were around Brother Ken throughout the six long years of his fight with lung cancer. Two of the Sigs there first met Ken at the Balfour Workshop held the summer of 1956 at Hanover College in Madison, Indiana.

Ken has gone to Chapter Eternal and is reunited with his sweetheart Kathy. We miss them both, but they are now in a better place. All honor to his name."

A Lasting Legacy to Sigma Chi and Purdue

Ken graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Finance. At Purdue, Ken was in the Naval ROTC and served on the Interfraternity Council. During his years at Delta Delta he served as its Magister, Pro Consul and Consul. Ken was a Life Loyal Sig and honored by his fraternity as a Significant Sig in 2004, a distinction earned for his lifelong service to both his community and beloved fraternity.

Brothers and Sweethearts Together: L-R: Ken Kraft '56, Jim Dora '58, Kathy Kraft, Bernie Sergesketter '58, Mary Sergesketter, D'Arcy Elsperman, Shirley Dora and Bob Elsperman '58.

Ken also worked with the fraternity to support the house renovations at Purdue University, University of Florida and University of Central Florida. Ken continued supporting Purdue upon his graduation as a Life Member of the Alumni Association and as a member of the President's Council.

Ken established the Kenneth H. Kraft, Jr. Endowed Scholarship Fund at the Krannert Graduate School at Purdue, which provides scholarship assistance to outstanding scholars seeking a master's level business degree.

As a loyal Boilermaker, Ken also supported the John Purdue Club and was a member of the Southwest Florida and Central Florida Purdue Alumni Clubs.

A Final Goodbye

Perhaps only Ken himself could sum up his life with Sigma Chi as he spoke with Bernie Sergesketter and Jim Dora about how much Delta Delta and Sigma Chi meant to him. At the end of the call, Ken said, "Goodbye dear brothers."

A true friend unbosoms freely, advises justly, assists readily, adventures boldly, takes all patiently, defends courageously, and continues a friend unchangeable. Death cannot kill what never dies, nor can spirits ever be divided that love and live in friendship; this is the comfort of friends, that though they may be said to die, yet their friendship and society are in the best sense ever present, immortal.