Community rallies around family of former teacher killed in crash

KALAMAZOO, Mich. — Ryan Cramer wasn’t just a son, he was a brother. He wasn’t just a husband, he was a dad.  And he wasn’t just a teacher and coach, he was a mentor.

His wife Krista said he was “larger than life,” always helping people live their best lives.  On Saturday all those people, almost 1,000 to be exact, paid their respects to him and his family at his visitation and funeral.

“He would do anything for anybody and he did,” said Krista about her husband, whom she met in high school. “He really, truly lived for other people. He was born to serve.”

Last Wednesday, on Sept. 7, Ryan was tragically killed. Michigan State Police said around 9 a.m. that morning his HVAC van crossed the median on I-94 and crashed head-on into a semi-truck. He was becoming a technician after serving many years as a teacher. Krista said she will never forget that morning.

“My biggest concern when everybody came and told me, like how am I going to tell our babies,” said Krista while dabbing her eyes with tissue. “Because he was a wonderful father.”

Krista said the last week has been "torture" for her but she’s determined to move forward. And she's helping their two little girls — 8-year-old Claire and 5-year-old Hannah — march on too, one day at a time. His girls were his world and he loved watching them play soccer and softball.

“The second those baby girls were born it changed his entire life,” said Krista while crying. “I’ve never seen a dad be so hands-on and so absolutely in love with his children. And he was.”

Those who knew Ryan best are helping Krista and the family get through this difficult time she said. Paramount Charter School, where Ryan taught, set up a GoFundMe page and it’s raised over $34,000. A friend is hosting a golf tournament in his honor. Wednesday night, friends, family, co-workers and students are gathering to do a lantern send-off at baseball fields in Mattawan. It'll be one week since his death.

“The community has been super supportive,” said Megan Cramer, Ryan’s younger sister. “They’ve done a lot. It’s helped us with our mourning knowing that he touched so many people and that he made an impact on so many lives.”

After Ryan’s death, the owners of the Kalamazoo Pizza Company, where she works, approached Megan about what they can do to help. They came up with an idea of donating a percentage of their earnings on Saturday Sept. 17 to Krista and her girls.

“I still can’t even quite comprehend just the amount of support,” said Krista. “That’s all Ryan would ever want is his family taken care of and that is exactly what people have been doing for us.”

And that’s what he did for other people, she said, take care of them. He was a beloved little league baseball coach who personally drove the kids all the way up to the Upper Peninsula when they made it to the championship. He also coached basketball at Mattawan High School, where he went attended. His players even called him “dad.”

“He was loved,” said Krista. “He is loved. We are loved. And I really think that this going to affect people for a really long time.”

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