An expressive storyteller and writer, Roger Kraker was a big man with a big laugh, a wonderful sense of humor, and a love for adventure. “What I remember most,” said an individual who knew him, “is how kind and compassionate he was to the people he served in Sierra Leone and how he made people feel at home.” Others recall the smell of his pipe. Kraker died at his home in Spring Hill, Tenn., on April 9.
After obtaining a bachelor's degree in biology, Kraker went on to complete an M.Div. at Calvin Theological Seminary. After ordination and marriage in 1980, he worked for the next 18 years in Sierra Leone and Liberia with Christian Reformed World Missions. Kraker considered these years of living and working in Africa the most significant and meaningful years of his life.
In 1998, the Kraker family returned to the United States. He trained in Hawaii to become a certified chaplain. Starting in 2002, he worked as a chaplain at St. Luke’s Hospital in Milwaukee, Wisc., until he was diagnosed with Alzheimer's Disease in 2010. Throughout his eight years of living with Alzheimer's, Kraker was lovingly cared for at home by his family. One of the greatest challenges he faced in his last decade was the limitation on his ability to travel and explore the world. Reading the journal he wrote throughout his years in Africa provided stimulation and joy for him until the end of his life, and these writings will continue to be treasured by his family.
Kraker is survived by Yvonne, his wife of 38 years; his daughter Nikki and son, Zachary; and one granddaughter. He was preceded in death by his daughter Sasha.