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.”
Damn. RIP Dale.—
Doug BaldwinJr (@DougBaldwinJr) March 20, 2014
Sad to hear the news about dale passing away...my prayers are with his family and the whole @Seahawks organization we will miss you DALE!!—
Earl Thomas(@Earl_Thomas) March 20, 2014
Mike Morgan(@Mike17mo) March 20, 2014
We lost a great man and even better friend today. God Bless Dale. pic.twitter.com/G40oGyvcxT— s_j_v (@VMACTurf) March 20, 2014
Sad to hear about the passing of Dale Cramer...great man who was a vital behind the seens part of the @Seahawks success. He'll be missed.— Robbie Tobeck (@RobbieTobeck) March 20, 2014
You may have seen a few players tweet out R.I.P. Dale. Referring to longtime Seahawks maintenance worker Dale Cramer. Was with team 30 years— Dave Softy Mahler (@Softykjr) March 20, 2014
We will miss you behind the wheel of the helmet car Dale. Rest in peace. pic.twitter.com/UfrNza4XoM— The Sea Gals (@TheSeaGals) March 20, 2014
Rest well Dale!—
Jeron Johnson(@Jus_Showoff) March 20, 2014
Sad d a y in seahawks history one of the best people in passed away today Dale Cramer he will be missed heaven is lucky to get such a great—
Michael Bennett(@mosesbread72) March 20, 2014
Man I will miss him— Michael Bennett (@mosesbread72) March 20, 2014
RIP Dale, a great person, and always a great spirit to have around the workplace. May you rest in… http://t.co/Hst8K6tevD—
Caylin Hauptmann(@CaylinHauptmann) March 20, 2014
We will miss you Dale Cramer. You will forever be a major part of our @Seahawks hearts. We love you and will be forever grateful.—
Russell Wilson(@DangeRussWilson) March 20, 2014
So sad about the passing of Dale Cramer, a true great in our Seahawks family. His spirit will live on at VMAC and on our team.— Pete Carroll (@PeteCarroll) March 20, 2014
Dale Cramer always had a funny story, always had a smile and always cared about everyone around him. Love & prayers to Dale & Janice.— Tony Ventrella (@tony_ventrella) March 20, 2014
RIP Dale. Awesome guy.. — Kameron (@Kam_Chancellor) March 20, 2014
RIP Dale Cramer! One of the best staff members @Seahawks office. You will be missed.— Sean Locklear (@SeanLock75) March 21, 2014
Sad to hear about Dale Cramer's passing. Great man & true friend. Always greeted me with a smile & hug. Condolences 2 his family & @Seahawks— Walter Jones (@BigWalt71) March 20, 2014
Heavy hearts here today with the passing of Seahawks facility manager Dale Cramer-- one of our family's favorites.— Matthew Hasselbeck (@Hasselbeck) March 21, 2014
We miss you Dale.— Matthew Hasselbeck (@Hasselbeck) March 21, 2014
Myself and those at the VMAC are going to miss you Dale Cramer, can't thank you enough for your willingness to serve and be selfless.— Chris Maragos (@ChrisMaragos) March 21, 2014