Horace J.R. Kramer (left) works the 10,000th auction of his career Thursday at the James H. Montgomery estate in Eaton in September 2005. Kramer held his first auction in 1948. At right is his son, John Kramer. Photo by Lisa Powell Lisa Powell
Photo: Lisa Powell
Photo: Lisa Powell

Horace Kramer, prolific area auctioneer of sometimes-unusual items, dies at 94

If Horace “J.R.” Kramer shook your hand on a deal, it was as good as any legal document, said Kramer’s son, John.

“He was most proud of his family and his reputation. That honesty was never questioned,” John Kramer said.

The elder Kramer, 94, died Friday, July 8, after an extended battle with heart disease.

He was auctioneer and Realtor with Kramer & Kramer Inc., and in 1997 was inducted into the Ohio Auctioneers Association Hall of Fame. The Kramer auctions are known for interesting, and sometimes unique, items, such as a narwhal tusk auctioned in 1998 for $11,300 and donated to the Smithsonian Institution.

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Twelve years ago, in 2005, Mr. Kramer marked the 10,000th “call,” or auction, since his first in 1950, with L.G. Reitz, whose business started in 1910.

Mr. Kramer’s life to that point in 2006 was the subject of a news story in which he talked about growing up the third of 10 children born to Iva and Horace Kramer on a farm on Ohio 726 on what was then Eldorado Road. He whiled away his chore time imagining selling the Guernsey cow he was milking, never lost his admiration for livestock and most enjoyed those auctions held every Tuesday for 30 years.

An auction for the vast lifelong belongings of him and his wife, Marion Ewing Kramer, who died after 64 years of marriage, was Thursday, July 12, at the Preble County Fairgrounds in Eaton.

“An auction is what he wanted to have,” said John Kramer. “He always said … the best way to settle an estate was at auction.”

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Mr. Kramer’s health was good for a man his age, said his son. Up until Christmas, “he was still driving, coming into the office every day and attending every auction.”

On May 6, Mr. Kramer, John Kramer and his wife, Debbie played four holes of golf.

“We would have played more but we got rained out,” John Kramer said.

He graduated in 1942 from Eaton High School and attended Miami University for two years before joining the Army Air Force officers school. He continued to pilot with the Ohio Air National Guard through 1951.

Auctions, Mr. Kramer said in the 2006 article, were “truly a community affair in the ‘40s and ‘50s. If we went to an estate or farm operation, the church put up a tent” and served lunch. “That’s changed.”

John Kramer began “calling” with his dad in 1973 when still a student at Ohio State, and was the youngest auctioneer to be inducted in the Ohio Auctioneers Association Hall of Fame in 1999.

Besides his son, Mr. Kramer is survived by his daughter, Belinda Marsh of Atlanta, eight grandchildren and numerous nieces and nephews. Viewing for Mr. Kramer will be from 4 to 8 p.m. Friday at Eaton United Methodist Church, 120 N. Maple St. His funeral will be at 10 a.m. Saturday at the church.

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