It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of Dr. George Howard Kraft (1936-2022). Dr. Kraft was a titan in the field of MS care, research, and education, an expert electro-diagnostician, and a key member of the University of Washington faculty for 51 years.
Dr. Kraft was born in Columbus, Ohio, on September 27, 1936. He graduated from Harvard in 1958, received both his MD in 1963 and his MS in 1967 from Ohio State. He served with the Medical Corps of the US Navy from 1967 to 1969, after which he became a professor at the UW Department of Rehabilitation Medicine, a position he held until 2012; he then served as a professor emeritus until 2020.
While his career had many aspects, Dr. Kraft will be best remembered for his tremendous achievements in multiple sclerosis care. His seminal achievements in MS research changed our understanding of the disease and transformed care for people with MS at UW and beyond. Dr. Kraft received many notable honors over the course of his career, including a Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Multiple Sclerosis Society in 2011.
George Howard Kraft met Mary Louise Wells when he was an intern and she a nurse at UCSF. They married in 1965 and moved to Seattle when he began his tenure at the UW. They found a home in Mercer Island, where their two children, John and Susannah, were born and raised.
George was an artist at heart, and many of his works remain in the homes of various family members. He and Mary were patrons of the regional arts scene, and enjoyed travel opportunities over much of the world. The family were members of Emmanuel Episcopal Church, Mercer Island, for 50 years, where George served on the Vestry and as an usher. He loved being “Grampa George,” and in his semi-retirement years he enjoyed his martinis and good, long talks with family and friends.
George is survived by his beloved family: Mary, his wife of 57 years; son John (Betsy) of Naples, Florida; daughter Susannah Butscher (Cliff) of New York City; grandchildren Caroline, Ella, and Catherine Kraft and Sydney and Alec Butscher, as well as numerous extended family members.
The family would like to acknowledge the invaluable support, loving care, and special attention given to George by the medical communities at the UW and Harborview Medical Center, the staff of Horizon House, and family and friends during his final days. He passed away with many family members present at his bedside, sharing memories and much love for him and for each other.
George was a remarkable doctor, husband, father and friend who will be sorely missed.
A celebration of his life will be held at 2 pm on Friday, December 30, 2022, at Emmanuel Episcopal Church on Mercer Island. The service will be livestreamed and on zoom, contact the family for information.
In lieu of flowers, remembrances may be sent to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, Greater NW Chapter, Attn President Laurie Johnson, 180 Nickerson St. Ste. 100, Seattle, WA 98109. Online donations may be made at: www.nationalmssociety.org/Chapters/WAS/Donate