Alumna and philanthropist Charlotte Kramer passes away

Photo of Charlotte Kramer

Charlotte Kramer, a 1941 alumna whose philanthropic passion helped advance Judaic studies and launch a campus law clinic, died last week at the age of 101.

Kramer’s lifetime of support of the people and institutions of Cleveland and Northeast Ohio continued a family tradition of charity reaching back over a century. Her late father, Samuel Rosenthal, was a founder of Park Synagogue in Cleveland Heights as well as the American Association for Jewish Education.

Kramer made a significant impact at Case Western Reserve through support of the Samuel Rosenthal Endowment, the Samuel Rosenthal Professorship of Judaic Studies, and the Milton A. Kramer Law Clinic Center–named in honor of her husband.

“Charlotte Kramer’s visionary contribution establishing the Milton A. Kramer Law Clinic created a structure for educating students and serving the community that endures and thrives today,” said Jessica Berg, co-dean of the School of Law.

The clinic serves as a law firm within the law school, serving clients and client groups who are unable to afford their own legal representation. The clinic handles more than 100 cases per year totaling approximately 16,000 hours of pro bono legal work.

Law school co-dean Michael Scharf noted Kramer’s long-standing commitment to the school, the clinic and the students it develops. 

“As the Kramer Law Clinic Center celebrates its 50th anniversary this year,” Scharf said, “we reflect on how grateful we are to Charlotte and the Kramer Foundation for their support and engagement throughout the decades.”

Through the Samuel Rosenthal Endowment, Kramer and her brother, the late Leighton Rosenthal, have provided study-abroad opportunities in Jerusalem, as well as instruction in the Hebrew language, for Case Western Reserve students. The endowment also supports the Samuel Rosenthal Professorship of Judaic Studies, which is held by historian Jay Geller. 

“Charlotte Kramer felt very lucky to have the life she did,” Geller said, “and wanted to use her good fortune to help others in Northeast Ohio.”

A director on the board of Work Wear Corp., a family-owned manufacturer of industrial work clothes, Kramer also embraced a leadership role in the community, serving on the boards of local institutions, including the Jewish Community Federation, the Cleveland Orchestra, the Samuel Rosenthal Foundation and the Charlotte R. and Milton A. Kramer Charitable Foundation.

In addition to her support of the students of Case Western Reserve, Kramer paid the college tuition of an entire class of 71 students from the Cleveland elementary school she attended as a child. One of the recipients of the gift, London Fletcher, went on to graduate from John Carroll University before becoming a Super Bowl winning football player with the St. Louis Rams.

“Charlotte’s extensive charitable work is humbling, and the college is so honored to be a part of the long list of organizations she impacted,” said Joy Ward, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Case Western Reserve. “The impact of her philanthropy on CWRU—supporting social justice, the arts, law and the health sciences—is a lasting tribute to her generous spirit.”