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The Joan A. Kraft & R. Wayne Kraft Memorial Fund

The Joan A. Kraft & R. Wayne Kraft Memorial Fund was established in 2016 by former LVCF Board of Governors’ member, Ellen M. Kraft, Esquire, in loving memory of her parents. The donor-advised fund will provide grants to charitable organizations in the region, as a means of memorializing the philanthropic nature of the late R. Wayne and Joan Kraft.

R. Wayne Kraft, Jr. was born in West Collingswood, NJ and was a 1948 graduate of Lehigh University, having interrupted his undergraduate education to serve in the US Army Corps of Engineers during WWII.

Dr. Kraft returned to Lehigh in 1962 as a Professor of Metallurgy and Materials Science, after obtaining his masters’ and doctoral degrees from the University of Michigan and working in industry at United Aircraft Research (CT) and American Brakeshoe (NJ) for several years. Wayne was a specialist in the fields of physical metallurgy, X-Ray diffraction, solidification and crystallography. He held multiple patents, wrote more than 50 technical papers and received multiple professional awards, including the prestigious Bradley Stoughton Award. Wayne was involved extensively in the LV community, having served on the Bethlehem Planning Commission, the Catholic Social Agency board, the Allentown Cursillo, Pax Christi, the Greater Bethlehem Area Council of Churches, the Valley Housing Development and the Salvation Army, to name a few.

Wayne’s true passion, however, was systems philosophy and he studied and wrote extensively about Teilhard de Chardin, S.J.; Wayne had several books on Teilhard published. Wayne helped establish the Newman Foundation at Lehigh University, became an adjunct professor of philosophy and theology at Allentown College of St. Francis de Sales (now DeSales University), received an Honorary Doctorate of Humanities from DeSales and the DeSales Medal for his work as a Catholic layman (the school’s highest non-academic honor). Wayne was ordained a permanent Deacon in and for the Allentown Diocese in 1990, serving the Diocese until his death in 1994.

Joan Auchter Kraft was born in Milwaukee, WI and was a 1946 graduate of Cornell University, receiving a degree in the field of Home Economics. Joan excelled in the sciences but was born with cataracts, which caused her to become legally blind in one eye as a young child, so she was unable to pursue a career in the sciences because they did not have monocular microscopes at colleges in the 1940s. Before her marriage to Wayne, Joan taught at the Connecticut College for Women. In addition to raising four children and living in three different states before her youngest child was four, Joan was an active member of St. Anne’s Catholic Church in Bethlehem, serving in many capacities including being one of the first women lectors and Eucharistic Ministers, and she helped initiate the church’s involvement with the ecumenical soup kitchen at New Bethany Ministries in South Bethlehem. In the 1980s, Joan became the first woman to serve as a volunteer associate chaplain at St. Luke’s Hospital, having obtained a degree in pastoral care. She ministered on the cardiac and oncology wards and helped train new chaplains. During her many years in Bethlehem, she was involved in Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, Pax Christi, the Green Circle, the Gourmet Club (she was an excellent cook), the League of Women Voters, AAUW, the Jewish-Christian Dialogue and she served on the Board of the Catholic Social Agency and its Social Action Bureau for many years. In recognition of her many church and civic activities, Allentown College awarded Joan an honorary doctorate degree and also the DeSales Medal, and the Jesuit Center at Wernersville awarded her the Pilgrim Award.

Joan loved the outdoors; walking, gardening and bird-watching and participated in the Audubon Society’s winter bird count for many years.

This memorial fund will allow Joan and Wayne to continue to make a difference in people’s lives, though during their lifetimes their generous gifts to various charities were usually made anonymously. Their belief was that true charity does not seek anything in return, not even an acknowledgement.

Gifts in the form of a check can be made payable to the The Joan A. Kraft & R. Wayne Kraft Memorial Fund and mailed to The Lehigh Valley Community Foundation, 840 West Hamilton Street, Suite 310, Allentown, PA 18101. 

Gifts can also be made via credit card by clicking the PayPal 'Donate' button below.  A PayPal account is not required to make an online gift to the Fund.