Dick Kramer, U.S. Navy veteran and acclaimed artist and illustrator, 83, passed away January 14, 2022, at his home in Leesburg, VA, beside his beloved family.
Known by many as the “Father of Modern Tactical Artwork,” Dick Kramer produced the finest in tactical art for first responders, as well as military themed art prints. According to Dick, these represent the brightest, bravest and best our nation has to offer.
Mr. Kramer was born on April 1, 1938, in Newark, NJ. From a very young age, Dick had a calling to art and would draw on anything he could get his hands on. In fact, one of his first jobs was for a local butcher and he was paid in the brown paper which would be used to wrap the various meats in the shop.
After attending Nutley High School, Dick enlisted in the United States Navy at the age of 17 and became the youngest 2nd Class Petty Officer in the Pacific Fleet, serving as an Aviation Ordnanceman. Dick would refer to his decision to join the Navy as the best decision he ever made, second only to his decision to propose to his wife, Virginia. They would marry soon after Dick’s honorable discharge in 1959.
Dick quickly returned to his pursuit of art, attending the Newark School of Art and the School of Visual Arts in New York City at night. With the birth of twin boys, Richard and Robert, in 1960, money was tight and Dick would work various jobs during the day, including selling vacuum cleaners door-to-door to provide for the growing family.
Dick was ordained a Deacon in 1976 at St. Joseph’s Church in Newark. This would be a lasting source of pride for Dick as he worked to serve Christ throughout his life. Always dedicated to the service of his country, a few years later, Dick and his daughter, Suzanne, would make New Jersey history as the first father and daughter to graduate from the same police academy – the Essex County Police Academy in Verona, NJ. They would go on to serve together as Special Deputy Sheriffs.
In the following years, Dick would flourish as an artist, working as a freelance illustrator in New York City for many notable clients such as Grosset & Dunlap, Bell Telephone, and the National Football League to name a few. During this time, he was accepted into the prestigious Society of Illustrators.
In 1981, Dick accepted a position as a staff artist for the defense contractor ITT to support their military programs. He would go on to paint over 60 original paintings for the Air Force Art Program, including what would become one of the defining works of his life. In 1987, Dick would paint an enormous sixteen by eight-foot mural honoring the 40th anniversary of the Berlin Airlift which he would present to President Ronald Reagan hours before his historic “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall” speech at Brandenburg Gate. This mural hangs in honor at Berlin’s Templehof Airport and will soon be transferred to the Allied Museum.
An unapologetic, America-loving patriot, Dick would open his own studio with his wife, Ginny, and spend the rest of his career honoring the military and law enforcement, whom he loved so deeply, through his art. Dick would go on to create hundreds of pieces of art profiling every type of first responder and elite unit imaginable. He has been the recipient of countless awards from police and military organizations including the Department of Homeland Security for his skillful depiction of these heroes. He was named Entrepreneur of the Year by the Loudoun County Chamber of Commerce in 1998 and Citizen of the Year by the city of Purcellville, VA, in 2014.