Amherst Magazine

Alfred C. Krass ’58

Alfred C. Krass ’58 died on October 26, 2010.
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Alfred C. Krass ’58

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“My Amherst education opened many windows for me and helped me see how to contribute in the places where I have been put.” These were the closing words to Al’s 50th Classbook submission.

His life of 74 years was one of constant “contribution” . . . to human dignity, to the needs of the neediest, to international understanding, to respectfulness for all religious traditions – though he was himself an Ordained Minister in the United Church of Christ (1961).

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At Al’s memorial service November 2, 2010, person after person hailed him as a “bridge-builder” and a “peacemaker.”  Representatives of five world religions – Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, and Christian – came forward to pay him tribute.

Al deserved all the superlative tributes he received; his life itself was a tribute to the Amherst College education of the 1950's.  Although I “technically” only shared one year at Amherst with Al, I also overlapped with him at Yale Divinity School, worked with him, in mutual ministry projects, and our families vacationed together when our children were young. Al later continued his education earning a Master’s in Sociology at the New School for Social Research.

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Al loved Amherst where he (Al’s words again) ”came to see that the dominant themes (were) caring, community, kindness, and . . . compassion.” He was a first generation American whose father had come as an infant and who wanted Al to have all the things he himself had missed. One step in that quest was his decision to send Al to Andover, the most serious regret of which Al recounted as the Amherst prohibition against “wearing jackets or insignia that identified us as coming from a particular high school.”   Al’s life was to change by conversion at Amherst from Judaism to Christianity through involvement with the chaplains of the Christian Association, and he threw himself into manykrass%205volunteer service projects in the greater Amherst community. From those Amherst and Divinity School years he went on to nine years of literacy work, community development, preaching and teaching in rural Ghana. He then traveled the world consulting internationally for The United Church of Christ, served a local church in Levittown, PA, for 13 years, helped found housing opportunities for low income people in Bucks County, PA, and inspired the creation of an Interfaith Council for Middle East Peace.

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 After retirement in 1999 worked as apart-time coordinator for the regional affiliate of Peace Action in southeast Pennsylvania., continued his work on the interfaith community, and was an active instructor (e.g., poetry, peacemaking, American history themes) with the Osher Lifelong Learning Center at Temple University.   Al was an author, a poet,  a gardener, and lover of classical, jazz and hymnal music.  His many friends loved him for his gentle sense  of humor.
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 krass%206Above all Al was, for 48 years, a loving husband to Susan and a sensitive father to his disabled son Thomas and his first born, Michael, AnnaLuten (Michael’s partner), and their son Bruno. He is also survived by an older brother, William Krasilovsky, and many loved nieces and nephews. His life truly enriched all who knew him.

 

– J. Alan McLean ‘55 (with Hendrik Gideonse ‘58)

Alfred C. Krass
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Alfred C. Krass, born in Brooklyn, NY, lived in Levittown, died at St. Mary Medical Center on October 26, from complications from pneumonia. He was 74.

Alfred was born into a Jewish family and converted to Christianity while at Amherst College. He attended Yale Divinity School, and was ordained a minister of the United Church of Christ in 1961. He spent his life in service to God and the people with and among whom he lived. A man of prayer, he had a strong passion for justice and peace, a great compassion for others, and an ever-growing understanding of all people as children of God. As he has said of himself, he began with evangelism and ended with peacemaking.

He served as a missionary in Ghana, working in church planting, community development, and literacy. Then in New York City he was the evangelism consultant for the United Church Board for World Ministries. He studied at the New School for Social Research and received an MA in sociology. In Philadelphia, he participated in Jubilee Fellowship, an ecumenical house church, was an editor of The Other Side magazine, and did community organizing with the Southwest Germantown Association and Germantown Residents Acting to Conserve Energy. He was called as full time pastor to United Christian Church in 1987. He was the founder and first president of the Interfaith Housing Development Corporation. He also founded the Lower Bucks Center for Church and Community, and was active in peace projects with the Metropolitan Christian Council and The Pennsylvania Conference of the UCC.

Since his retirement in 1999, he preached in various churches, worked part time for the Coalition for Peace Action in Bucks and Montgomery County, participated in the Interfaith Council for Middle East Peace, and other groups working for interfaith understanding. He also taught classes on poetry, peacemaking, and themes in American history at the Osher Lifelong Learning Center at Temple University.

Alfred?s other interests were his family, friends, sketching and watercolor, gardening, travel, cycling, swimming and cooking. He was an avid reader, had a good sense of humor, and enjoyed music, especially classical, jazz, and hymns. He was a communicator and an organizer, who knew how to move people, and to make friends, many of whom saw him as a family member. His broad, loving outlook on life meant that many sought his advice and companionship.

Alfred is survived by his wife of 48 years, Susan, his sons Thomas and Michael and his partner Anna Luten and their son Bruno. He is also survived by his older brother William Krasilovsky, and many nieces and nephews whom he loved.

Services will be held on Tuesday, November 2, at 2 p.m. at the Bucks County Presbyterian Church, 1550 Woodbourne Road, Levittown. Scattering of ashes and a reception follows at United Christian Church, 8525 New Falls Road, Levittown. Clergy of all faiths are invited to robe.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to United Christian Church, 8525 New Falls Road, Levittown, or Peaceful Living, an organization which provides loving services for people with mental retardation, 2210 Shelly Road, Suite 2, Harleysville, PA 19438.

 

Submitted by his son Michael.

Comments

I had the  greatest respect for Al, as a human being, as a Christian, and as a man of God.  One example of his many abilities was the prayer that he gave at the memorial service at our 50th reunion.  The prayer was perfect.

Many years ago, we had lunch together when he had an office near Union Theological Seminary.  In our conversation, I mentioned my interest in learning New Testament Greek.  He suggested a book in the Seminary library, which I purchased.  In the following years, I studied the book on the train to and from work and got the rudiments of the language.  I am indebted to Al for that.

 

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