William D. Kraft, Jr., 87, of Cranbury died peacefully at home on Friday, Dec. 16. He was the son of the late William David and Thelma V. (Ringlaben) Kraft and brother of the late Sarah Kraft Bond.
Bill grew up in and had great affection for the town of West Hazleton, Pa. where his family owned a lumber business for several generations. After graduating from Drexel University, where he enjoyed many friendships as a member of Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity, he went on to serve as a cryptographer in the United States Army at forts around the Southern U.S.
In the late 1950s when there was only one book in the Philadelphia public library on computers and it was about the bomb sights of WWII, he started work at RCA’s computer group in Camden, NJ on the pioneering BIZMAC. After several years of working on those early RCA machines, he took an opportunity to move to a growing operation in Princeton called Educational Testing Service. He was at ETS for 31 years as a creative technology person working on many different systems including those for processing and grading millions of the tests that became standard in schools across the country, like the PSAT, SAT, and AP tests. He was always an innovator and earned several U.S. patents and kudos from colleagues for systems designed for document storage to test taker identification to the essay grading model.
After leaving ETS, he became an entrepreneur. He was asked to consult on a problem that the Episcopal Diocese of New Jersey had in getting the results of their important convention elections quickly. He worked with Bishop Mellick Belshaw and church officers to develop a system for New Jersey first using bar code technology. then later optical scanning, and called it Votescan. Eventually, Episcopal dioceses all across the country adopted his system and he spent the next twenty years working with his team to assist those dioceses in their elections.
He was married to the late Miriam Stecker Kraft, with whom he had a son William D. Kraft III of Buckingham Pa. He has been married to Katherine M. Kish for the last 37 years. He and Katherine enjoyed a very happy marriage sharing interests in business, in technology, in creating a special home and property in Cranbury, and in travel to all 50 states in the US and most provinces of Canada in their motorhomes.
His great passion was driving and collecting antique cars like Studebakers and Hudsons. He had an original Ford Mustang convertible, bought new in 1988, which he drove with pleasure until 2021. His latest pride and joy was a pristine 1997 Jaguar convertible. He was a member of the Central Jersey Antique Car Club and enjoyed showing his cars and driving in local parades.
He had a wonderful voice and was a soloist growing up and in college and the Army. And as an Eagles fan, both the Band and the NFL football team, he enjoyed this winning season.
In addition to his loving wife and son, Bill is survived by his son-in-law Steve Frahm, his brother Robert H. Kraft and his wife Rebecca Goldfield, his brother-in- law, L. Stephen Kish and his wife Beth, and nieces and nephews across the country.
The family would like to thank the physicians of the Princeton Medical Group, the staff at Princeton Medical Center Penn Medicine, the staff of the Gardens of Monroe and Holisticare Hospice, and his wonderful home caregiver.
A celebration of life will be held at 2 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 5, at the Mather Hodge Funeral Home in Princeton. Valet parking will be available.