Humphrey School mourns lecturer, leader, former policy-maker

Gary DeCramer passed away Wednesday. He was 67.

Matt Herbert

Gary DeCramer, policy-maker and senior lecturer at the University of Minnesota, passed away Wednesday. He was 67.

DeCramer, who headed the Humphrey School of Public Affairs’ Master of Public Affairs program, came to the school in 1992.

Prior to his arrival, DeCramer served as a state senator from 1983 to 1992, representing the southwestern part of Minnesota.

“Gary never lost his rural past, no matter how vast his world got,” said Jeannie Fox, a University colleague and friend.

“Gary was very deep with a thoughtful demeanor and he approached students with the greatest of intention and deliberateness,” she said.

DeCramer held various other positions at the University and throughout the state. He also served as state director of U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development in the 1990s.

He graduated from the University of St. Thomas with a bachelor’s degree in English. He went back to St. Thomas for his doctorate in educational leadership after earning a master’s degree in English from the University of Oklahoma.

“He was the kind of friend that we all long for in our life –– someone like Gary DeCramer,” said Dave Frederickson, commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Agriculture and a close friend of DeCramer.

DeCramer was a genuine person, Frederickson said.

“He was there when you needed him, he spoke softly, he was very thoughtful and he was there for friends when they had needs.”

DeCramer had many friends throughout the country, from the local saloons in Marshall, Minn. all the way to the White House, Frederickson said.

DeCramer’s children were the most important aspect of his life, Frederickson said.

He was also passionate about his work at the University, and will be missed greatly at the Humphrey School, said Eric Schwartz, Humphrey dean.

“Gary’s loss is an enormous blow to the Humphrey School because of so many elements of his character, when combined really made him unique,” Schwartz said.

“This institution is feeling a lot of pain right now,” he said.

DeCramer is survived by his wife, Estelle Brouwer, and his three daughters.

Funeral plans have not been announced yet.