René Maurice Kraemer
February 10, 1953 - March 10, 2021
René Maurice Kraemer, age 68, of Newark, DE, passed away on Wednesday, March 10, 2021. He was born in Oswego, NY, on February 10, 1953, to the late Maurice Kraemer and Rose Mary (Barbasso) Kraemer.
In 1952, René’s mother returned to Oswego to help her sister, Carmela (Aunt Mala) who had broken her leg and needed some help during and after her pregnancy with Rosemary (Rose). She stayed in Oswego until after René was born. Luckily for the sisters, their living arrangement offered the benefits of motherly support each of them needed. Hence, the close bond between cousins, Rosemary and Aunt Mala, and Rosemary with René’s mom.
René’s father was in the Air Force, so the family moved around frequently on various assignments. After a short time in Oswego, they moved to Texas. René’s family also lived in Japan, California, Illinois, New Jersey, and Maine. When his father did a short stint in Alaska, the family opted not to follow. They’d had enough of the cold weather while in Oswego. In the beginning, René hung his diaper in upstate New York, but in the end, he hung his hat in Delaware. As an adult, he also spent time in Washington and Pennsylvania.
When René first moved to Delaware in the mid-1960s with his mom and brothers, their apartment complex had a pool. Summers at the pool were filled with swimming and playing board games, the favorite being Mille Bornes. For several years, we had wonderful summers at the pool.
René was artistically inclined in the fields of writing, acting, singing, and painting. He started acting in high school, and was quite the star at Christiana High School, where he graduated in 1971. René continued his acting career in local amateur theatre groups.
In the 1970’s, he started acting at the Candlelight Dinner Theatre, where he also waited tables and directed. When René moved to Pennsylvania in the 1980s, be began acting for the Longhorne Players. When he moved back to Delaware during the 2000s, he joined Main Street Players. René did at least one risqué play, and was not shy about letting family and friends attend that production.
He met his friend, Susan “Sue” Stroman, of Wilmington, DE, at the Candlelight Dinner Theatre, who is now a theatre producer, choreographer, performer, and film director. René kept in touch with Susan, and occasionally attended one of her shows when she was in New York City. He loved New York City and Broadway.
René also loved to paint; he followed his Aunt Mala in that area. His small apartment contained finished and unfinished paintings, one of them being Birds on a Branch, intended for his cousin Rose. When he retired, painting was one of the key activities he wanted to pursue.
René was an avid reader of many types of books, and owned books galore in hardback, paperback and digital versions. He could never resist stopping at a book store. On one of the treks he made to Oswego with Rose and Aunt Mala, he left a local corner bookstore with at least 6 books, vowing to return the next year - he went back the next day! At times, René would have two or three books started at once, and would often give book recommendations to his friends.
In high school, he liked to write short stories. When René joined a social media site a few years back, he would write lengthy posts that were worthy of book publication. He thought about entering the world of book publishing, and may have pursued this endeavor in retirement.
Movies were another one of René’s favorite pastimes. He enjoyed watching them on the big screen, through one of his service providers, or DVD. Whenever he would spend Thanksgiving or Christmas with Rose, he always had a movie he wanted to share with her. The most recent movie was “Boys in the Band.”; René wanted to see the Broadway play, but his health at that time prevented him from going and taking Rose along.
He was also an animal lover, and had dogs growing up (Frenchy, a Poodle, Pepsi, a black Lab, and Cleo, a Dalmatian) but then became enamored with cats. René and Mark owned several feline companions at one time. Most recently, René helped Rose feed some local homeless kitties (Morris, Sammy, Gracie, Mister, Fluffy, and Tux).
He loved a good meal, a good glass of wine, and spending time with family and friends. René was great at storytelling, and he had many tales to tell; stories of where he lived, shows he acted in or directed, gatherings or parties, trips or excursions, or just life in general. When he visited Aunt Mala at Somerford Assisted Living, the residents in the dining room looked forward to his visits, since René always had a story or two for them.
Retirement had been on his mind. Although René worked from home, he wanted to spend more time painting, going on a cruise, and taking a train ride to Florida. Maybe even working with a theatre group again.
René will be dearly missed, and always remembered for his creative spirit, goodwill, and zest for life.
He is survived by his brothers, Leon (Gale, deceased) and George (Mary); nephews, Leon, Tim, John and James; niece, Shanna; very close cousin, Rosemary (Roger) Mullins; cousins, Ryan and Jonathan; and former partner and very dear friend, Mark Coassolo.
Service and interment will be held privately.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in René’s memory to Faithful Friends Animal Society, 12 Germay Drive, Wilmington, Delaware 19804.
16 Condolences for René Maurice Kraemer
Our condolences to all friends and family. René was our excellent Richard III in the Arden Shakespeare Gild production many years ago. One funny remembrance was that, while a very good actor, René didn’t seem to have enough time to learn all his lines. In a scene where he enters reading a book for our opening night, he came out with a script in the book and wearing anachronistic eyeglasses! It took all my energy not to burst out laughing!
What can I say, Rene’ was one in a million. He was a great conversationalist and co-worker. I enjoyed his stories of life experiences and felt as though I was there with him at times. Rene’ was so eloquent, he could paint a picture with his words. He had always expressed since covid started that he could not wait to get back to a real life. It is a shame that he never was able to do that. I am just glad that I had the opportunity to speak with him before his passing and end on a positive note. Rene’ will be missed by all that knew him. May he rest in peace. My thoughts and prayers go out to his family and friends.
My cousin, my best friend will surely be missed and forever holds a special place in my heart. There are so many things to mention I would have to write a book. No, that would be for Rene, but I’ll give it a try as a short story.
We had so much fun in the 60’s growing up. The trips to Oswego to visit relatives, summer days at the pool playing board games and trying to do back flips off the diving board. I remember sleep overs and if it was a school night, Aunt Rose would always have the table set for our breakfast before she left for work.
Then I got married in 1970 and Rene was a senior in high school. The first year I was married, we lived at the same apartment complex so I still saw Rene. He and my fellow classmate, Mark, connected in 1973. As young adults, we sort of went separate ways for a while. I don’t recall when, but he lived in Seattle for a few years, and I lived in Kentucky for 7 years . When I was back for holiday visits, Rene would be by at some point as Grandma Rose was usually in Delaware for the winter months and so visits were needed to see her as well.
When I moved back to Delaware in the mid-80’s we were able to reconnect. In the 80’s & 90’s Rene and Mark were living in the Phila area, but me being a workaholic and raising a family left little time for doing things if it wasn’t centered around a holiday or one of his shows.
It’s been in the last 20 years or so, after he moved to Delaware, that it was easier for visiting and doing things together. I had helped out and spent time with his mom when she was sick, and when she passed in 2004, Rene and I got closer.
For a few years, Rene, my mother (Aunt Mala) did an annual trip to Oswego to see relatives. They were great road trips. We would listen to XM radio (The Bridge mostly) or listen to one of Rene’s many CD’s, and even do lots of talking. As you know, Rene always had great stories. We even got Roger to go on one of our road trips. I think it was a cousin’s 50th anniversary party. Due to his health and my mother’s health, we had not made the Oswego road trip for a few years. This was the year! He was going to have heart surgery so a trip in October would have been doable. Why October? Well, it was when Rene took his required two weeks off at the bank, and there were a bunch of October birthdays we celebrated. Good weather, although early, there could be snow flurries.
When my mom moved to assisted living he visited with her almost every night. It helped that he only lived across the road from her. We spent hours doing puzzles with her, and after he would leave, my mom would say to me, “I love Rene.” She worried about him and his health because he was special to her. She asked him for a current picture as she didn’t have any and he just so happened to have a head shot from one of his shows that he gave her. She kept it on her dresser where she could always see it. When he didn’t make a visit, my mom would worry even more. I certainly appreciated the time he spent with her.
We had great time getting together for the holidays. One year, we did Thanksgiving at my mother’s house. I cooked everything and transported the meal to her kitchen. Rene’s contribution was snails, a French delicacy. No one had had snails before, but we all tried one. They are an acquired taste (and thought). He told me his recipe, but it is not a dish I’ll make. Another year, I had a Christmas party and we had a $50 dollar bottle of red wine, Rene’s recommendation. Mind you, I’m not a fan of red wine, however, I will try a taste. The bottle got opened and everyone that sampled it thought the $15 wine was really, really good, but then someone checked and it was the $50 bottle we had sampled. Needless to say, it became a favorite of ours. The second bottle got tucked away to be shared at another time… next day maybe.
Eventually, I’ll adjust but it will be hard. I miss our almost daily phone calls and no one to wine to, oops, I mean whine. I was hoping he would make it to Florida in the next year or so to visit our place there. It’s a really long road trip, but with 3 of us in the car it would have been great fun. It was in the plans, but cut short. Love to Rene, Love, Rosemary
Susan Hazel Derrick
My deepest condolences to Rene’s family and loved ones. Saddened to have learned ,just today, of Rene’s passing. We were high school classmates and shared many classes and activities . I remember Rene’ as being full of life and such a kind warm hearted soul. The world was a better place with his presence. May he Rest In Peace.
My brother David and Rene’ were acting rivals at Christiana High School. He and I came to tears at his high school reunion when Rene heard of my brother Davids passing. He brought photos which I was able to share with my mother. A good man does good things. He is missed. I extend my comfort and my condolences. You raised a fine man.
Lisa Ciuffetelli Dunwody
My sincere condolences to Rene’s family. I met Rene in the early ‘70’s (73 or 74) while working at the Bank of Delaware. We became very close friends and hung out as much as possible. Movies, weekends in Ben Salem and Philly with him and Mark, Peddlers Village with his mom and aunt or just hanging out at the apartment in Ogletown. I saw most of the shows he was in at Candlelight. We kept in touch when he moved to Seattle and reconnected for a while right after his dad passed. I have been thinking of him a lot lately. I wish I had reached out to connect again. He wil forever be one of my best friends and will always be in my heart. Rest In Peace my dear friend.🙏🙏🙏💕
RENE WAS A FRIEND TO MY SISTER SANDI. MET RENE SEVERAL YEARS AGO AND ALSO HIS MOTHER ROSEY. VERY SWEET FAMILY, ALL OF THEM. I AM SURE ALL WILL MISS HIM. REST IN PEACE.
Rene , we will always Love n miss you. You were a great neighbor for many a year, great baby sitter to my kids, then Sherri became your boss. Small world. REP, your in Heaven now with your Mom , Dad and many more.Love Sandi Davis kemske
Martha (Laskowski) Fong
A favorite memory surrounding Rene and our high school troupe was his performance in “The Skin of Our Teeth” by Edward Albee. Rene was a committed artist in so many genres, but best of which was his commitment to our friendship. He’s a loss too close to home for so many of us. But, oh, how Rene grabbed the gusto out of life!
“You’re alive only once, as far as we know, and what could be worse than getting to the end of your life and realizing you hadn’t lived it?”
I’m glad I was able to come back into Rene’s life through work and remain close. I’ll never forget when we hired him. The name kept nagging me, so I asked if he was related to Rosie. His response was “well yeah” hesitantly. When I told him who I was, he was quite surprised. See we lived across the hall from the family in building 17. Rene and Lee use to babysit my brother and me when we were little. Throughout work we joked often about him babysitting me and then me becoming his supervisor. I will miss you Rene.
Would like to express my deepest sorrow to the family and send blessing to the family….Such a amazing man…never to be forgotten…so kind and caring in school…no matter who you were he was good to you…Rene will me missed deeply…a Angel in Heaven now…to watch over his family and friends…Peace be with the family….god bless…
Flash (Susan) Rosenberg
Sending all sympathy, comfort, and love. René was an adored classmate of mine at Christiana High School. He was unique, weird, brilliant, funny, tuned-in, and above all, kind and inclusive. He was probably the first openly gay person I knew, back before I had any idea what gay was. Instead of a label, I simply loved his frolic and originality. There was no one like René. He had quiet courage, grace, humor, passion, self-awareness, theatricality…and a shy modesty about his many talents. We lost touch after graduation. I am grateful to have known him.
I had the pleasure of working with Rene. I enjoyed his story telling of his past travels. He had a dramatic flare in his telling. I am glad his path in life crossed mine. My deepest sympathies. I see him sitting in a cafe in France enjoying an expresso by the Rhine river contemplating his next role. He will be missed.
Oh my heart is broken. Rene and I worked together for years at Bank of New York (DE). I haven’t spoken to him in years but I’ve thought of him often. I saw him act at The Candlelight Dinner Theater and with The Main Street Players. He was a fantastic person. I will miss him dearly.
Come Thou, the last one I acknowledge—
Pain within this corporeal web beyond cure,
I burned brightly in spirit, now I burn in Thee;
As fuel I resisted giving my consent to the flames ignited in Thee,
But now I nourish Thee and am consumed as well.
My native gentleness becomes, in Thy convulsions,
A hellish fury alien to this world.
I climbed through this dizzy vale of grief, unknowing and pure,
Atop the pyre,
So sure I’d never exchange the future for my heart,
Which held its treasures close.
Am I still there, burning unrecognizable?
Memories now escape my grasp.
O life, life: Thou art now beyond—
And my flame rages on. There’s no one who knows me.
Rainer Maria Rilke: “Komm du, du letzter, den ich anerkenne…”
Last Verses, Val-Mont, Switzerland, December 1926. Trans. KJ
It’s taken me a while to respond to the news of René’s passing, and I admit I had little contact with him after high school, except for a few memorable class reunions over the years. My memories of him therefore come mainly from our high school years, that cauldron of discovery and insecurity. His personality was such that he always stayed in my memory, and after all these years I still consider him the most distinctive and creative personality I knew growing up. I saved my first-order memories of him from high school until I found a tribute to him that has a larger arc, so I can share it all now.
The poem above contains the final verses written by the great German poet Rilke, whose birth name was actually René Karl Wilhelm Johann Josef Maria Rilke. He was a genius at language, and my translation of it cannot do justice to the subtleties of his poetry. But aside from their more superficial similarities— both Renés were thin, with French first and German last names, dark features, an ubiquitous moustache and contrarian personalities—our René shared with his poetic namesake an artistic vision that went beyond our normal everyday experience. Both were “other.” Both struggled against convention in the art they pursued. I was touched by this poem from Rilke’s deathbed, and saw in it some understanding of René as well, as I knew him.
From High School I remember especially his role in art, including our yearbook design, and he certainly pushed the limits of high school theater. In one brief play, he inserted a “striptease” act that was eventually censored from the performance by the principal. I also remember, at his instigation, working with him to stage, on our own, the short 2-person play by Edward Albee, The Zoo Story, which we actually performed on the high school stage before some probably bewildered students that one of the English teachers allowed to attend instead of class. Most memorable about that effort was the gasp from the audience when it was clear we used a real hunting knife as a prop in the climactic violent scene, perhaps a result of René’s devotion to method acting. René and I had to practice that scene carefully. If we had done more than one performance, maybe we would have gone to the effort to find a rubber knife…
I was sad to hear that Rene’s health had declined more recently, although I noticed at our 2016 reunion that he did not seem well. René, like others I knew in High School but lost touch with, somehow never grew old in my memory, and his passing comes as a shock. But the impressions he left have stayed with me. May his memory be for a blessing.
Rene was a dear friend. He was kind, talented, funny and smart. He made my life richer.