Biography with Images, Marian Northrop Kraft (1912-2006)
for Memorial Service Programs [created August 29, 2006]                     

There is also a  brief obituary notice, for general circulation.
Also linked below are a narrative of the circumstances surrounding her death,
a file for additional testimonials concerning her life and influence,
and the biography and obituary for Howard Russell Kraft (1911-2000).

Marian Augusta Northrop was born on 19 March 1912 in Waterbury Hospital, Waterbury, CT. Her parents were Clifford Wesley Northrop and the former Margaret Miller. She was the oldest of four daughters, and is survived by sisters Betty Simons Lirot of Daytona Beach, FL, and Jean Fleming of Concord, NH. Much of her early life was spent in a house on Beecher Avenue in the Mill Plain section of Waterbury. She attended the nearby Chase School

Three major activities in her early life were Girl Scouting (with her mother and sisters), amateur musical theater (her father was very active with the Mendelssohn singers, and both father and mother were part of a "strummer's club" for musical entertainment), and church  youth groups, where she met her future husband, Howard Russell Kraft. She attended Crosby High School in Waterbury and was a member of the swimming team. Both she and Howard, who was almost a year older, graduated from Crosby in the class of 1929 and regularly attended class reunions in later life.

In the summer of 1929 Marian worked as a life guard for the Park Department of Waterbury, and saved enough money for business college that fall and for nursing school (St. Luke's in New York City) in February of 1930. She dropped out that spring for health reasons, and returned home to take a job as bookkeeper in the new S. S. Kresge store in downtown Waterbury

Marian and Howard were married in November, 1931 in a simple service at Mill Plain Union Church. They both went back to work the following day. They first lived in a four-room fourth floor walk-up apartment near her parent's house as the "Great Depression" took hold. Howard's job at Scovill Manufacturing was cut to three days per week, and they soon moved to a rent-free tumble-down house off Mad River Road in Wolcott, in exchange for "fixing it up." The house actually had historical interest as the place where clockmaker Seth Thomas was born (1785), near the Alcott house where Amos Bronson Alcott was born (1799). These connections probably were lost on the young couple. The house had no plumbing and they drew water by pail from a well and heated it on a wood burning stove.  It was the spring of 1932, and Marian was pregnant with Charles.

The old house was part of the Peterson farm owned by Howard's aunt and uncle, and in the spring of 1933, Howard purchased a modest lot from them on Spindle Hill Road and planned and built a garage on it. They moved in that fall -- Marian was expecting Bob -- and lived there for four years. Amenities included electricity, telephone, an outside well with a hand pump, and an outhouse ("two-holer"). Howard lost his regular job for a time, and also broke his leg. Marian made and sold sweaters and fancywork to help out, and taught swimming. In 1936 they joined the Wolcott Congregational Church and Marian became a Sunday school teacher. She even took a religious studies class at Yale at one point. Her littlest sister died in 1934, followed by her father in 1936. Her mother consented to give some of his insurance money to the young couple to help them get started building a house next to the garage, provided they would include a small apartment for her. The house was ready for occupancy in the fall of 1938.

At the end of the Depression and start of World War II, Marian was pregnant with a third son, David, born in March, 1942. During the war, Marian served as a volunteer airplane spotter in the tower above the Wolcott Town Hall and taught swimming for the Red Cross and other organizations. After the war, in August, 1947, a daughter joined the family, Sharon Ann Kraft.  Especially after her personal religious experience in 1938, the Christian church came to play an even greater role in Marian's life. Sometime later she joined the Waterville Union Church (later renamed Waterville/Waterbury Bible Church) and regularly taught Sunday school, led youth groups (especially Pioneer Girls, an evangelical Christian parallel to Girl Scouts), and worked in the New England Keswick religious summer camps (Monterey, MA). She was known familiarly as "Cap" to her young associates. Marian's religious commitment, and the interest it spawned in people's spiritual and human needs, is also reflected in her children's choice of professions: Charles became a pastor, missionary and anthropology professor, Bob a professor of religious studies, David a physician (psychiatrist), and Sharon a specialist in services for the hearing impaired and the handicapped.

Marian and Howard liked to travel, and made many motor trips throughout the country, visiting children and relatives or camping as they went. For several decades, they vacationed in Daytona Beach FL in the fall. Especially after son Charles settled in Pasadena, they frequently made a spring trip to the west coast, visiting relatives along the way. Howard retired from Scovill in 1971, which provided even more opportunity for traveling. An avid picture taker, Marian documented their trips profusely. She also kept detailed journals of her, and their, activities. They were proud of having visited all the contiguous states in the USA, and were sent off to Hawaii (1982) and Alaska (1988) as gifts from their children. Marian was also interested in traveling abroad, and various opportunities were offered them, but Howard was hesitant. Finally in the summer of 1990 they went on a motor tour of England and Scotland with son Bob.

Howard died in 2000, and soon afterward Marian sold the house and property on Spindle Hill Road in Wolcott, where they had lived for over 65 years. Marian first moved into nearby Nottingham housing for the elderly in the Waterville section of Waterbury, close to her home church, and in 2001 relocated to the Havenwood-Heritage Heights Continuing Care Retirement Community in Concord, NH, near where daughter Sharon and family live.  Several well-worn Bibles were among her possessions when she downsized. At first she had her own apartment in a duplex cottage on the grounds, then moved to a smaller apartment in the lodge, and finally into the nursing care facility, where she died peacefully on 20 August 2006, aged 94. 

Marian is survived by her three sons, Charles H. Kraft of South Pasadena, CA, Robert A. Kraft of Ambler, PA, and David P. Kraft of Amherst, MA; a daughter, Sharon A. Kraft-Lund of Center Barnstead, NH; 14 grandchildren, 26 great-grandchildren; two sisters, Betty Simons Lirot of Daytona Beach FL, and Jean Fleming, formerly of Wolcott and S. Pomfret, VT, and now also living in Heritage Heights, Concord.  

Arrangements: in Concord, on Saturday September 2, at 6 pm, Memorial Service at Havenwood; in Wolcott/Waterville, on Saturday, September 9, burial in the family plot in Edgewood Cemetery, Wolcott CT, at 11 am (attended by her immediate family); followed at 1:30pm by a Memorial Service at the Bible Church of Waterbury (formerly Waterville Bible Church), at 240 Dwight St., Waterbury, CT.  

Remembrances:  In lieu of flowers, contributions will be accepted for the Marian "Cap" Kraft Summer Camp Scholarship Fund, at the Bible Church of Waterbury (240 Dwight St, Waterbury, CT 06704), or at the Congregational Church of North Barnstead (504 North Barnstead Rd, Center Barnstead, NH  03225).

Testimonials: We are collecting "memory clips" about Marian, especially from people unable to attend either of the memorial services, or who wish to include or add to what is said at those services.

The Memorial Service at the Waterbury Bible Church, 9 Sept 2006


Opening Scripture: Ecclesiastes 3.1-8, 2 Corinthians 1.3-5


Hymn 688 -- "Savior, Like a Shepherd Lead Us"

Scripture: Psalm 19, 1 Corinthians 13

Hymn 342 -- "Rock of Ages"

Pastoral Remarks (Rev. Richard Dill)

Scripture: Proverbs 31.10-31

Time of Rembrance (Family)

Hymn 635 -- "In the Garden"

Time of Rembrance (Congregation)

Scripture: Psalm 23

Hymn 327 -- "The Old Rugged Cross"