His Seahawks family remembers Dale Cramer

Posted Mar 20, 2014

Dale Cramer was more than the facilities manager at Virginia Mason Athletic Center. He was a bigger-than-life personality, with hands to match. He died Thursday at the age of 65.

Dale Cramer was a big man with an even bigger heart.

It was former Seahawks defensive end Grant Wistrom who dubbed Cramer “banana hands,” because of the size of his hands, and Cramer’s XXXL-sized fingerprints were all over everything in his role as facilities manager at Virginia Mason Athletic Center. But Cramer was a gentle giant who also touched the lives of those he came in contact with.

Cramer, 65, died early Thursday morning from complications of the cancer he had been battling.

“It’s a very sad day for the Seahawks’ organization,” general manager John Schneider said. “Dale was just a tremendous man with a tremendous spirit. He influenced a ton of lives throughout the building. He was a guy who just brightened your world. Everything he did away from his profession in this building was just as important in the way he influenced people and touched people’s lives.”

Cramer began working for the Seahawks in 2007, when they were beginning the process of moving from their old facility in Kirkland to their state-of-the-art headquarters on the shores of Lake Washington in Renton. But Cramer was involved with the team for several years before that in his role with Bekins, as he would help move the team’s equipment to and from their training camp at Eastern Washington University in Cheney, as well as to and from the stadium for games.

Equipment manager Erik Kennedy was instrumental in bringing Cramer to the Seahawks on a fulltime basis and became a close friend.

“Dale had made some goals for himself to be able to achieve and one was seeing the team hopefully win a Super Bowl,” Kennedy said. “Dale had an opportunity to see that and be part of it, and that was very important to him.”

It happened on Feb. 2, when the Seahawks beat the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XLVIII at MetLife Stadium in the New Jersey Meadowlands. Cramer spent the week there with the team prior to the game, helping in any way he could.

“What a sweet guy,” Seahawks president Peter McLoughlin said. “I’m so glad he got to have the Super Bowl experience. Our thoughts go out to his family. It’s a big loss and a sad day for us.”

Offered Kennedy, “Just being around it (the Super Bowl) and being around the guys was probably one of the most important things, besides his family, that’s ever happened to him in his life.”

Just as Cramer was one of the better hires that ever happened to the Seahawks. It occurred after a recommendation from Kennedy’s late father, which led Kennedy to Bekins because of the longevity of its employees – including Cramer.

“For me, I knew stability was what this organization needed and wanted, so we hired them,” Kennedy said.

And when the organization needed a new facilities manager, Cramer was hired.

“Dale is probably one of the biggest gentle giants of any human being that anyone has ever met who would do anything for anybody – whether it be players, or coaches, or staff,” Kennedy said. “He was maybe the most sensitive big man that anybody has ever met, but loves everybody.

“So I think hiring Dale was an opportunity for the organization to get better in a staff role, and I think anybody would tell you that man was worth his weight in gold.”

One of Cramer’s tasks – no, a labor of love – was making sure the American flag outside VMAC was flown at half-mast when appropriate. Thursday, the VMAC flag next to the American flag was lowered to half-mast to honor Cramer.

“He was a gentle giant who always made you feel welcome,” vice president of communications, broadcasting and web content Dave Pearson said.

Even when you were a member of the Seahawks’ extended family.

“I remember whenever my parents would come out (from Wisconsin), he couldn’t wait to see them and always gave them a big hug and made them feel welcome,” Schneider said. “He was just a great, great man.”