MAPLEWOOD, NJ — Edmund Krause, a beloved former principal who educated in the South Orange-Maplewood School District for 21 years, died Oct. 14, at age 86.
Born in Pittsburgh and raised there and in Queens, Krause earned his bachelor of arts degree in education and a master’s in administration of Brooklyn College. He then served in the U.S. Army during the Korean War, eventually earning an honorable discharge in 1953.
Beginning in 1971, Krause served as principal at South Mountain Elementary School for nine years, at Jefferson Elementary School for three years and at Marshall Elementary School for nine years, before his retirement in 1991.
“I was always so proud of my dad’s work as principal in the district,” Michael Krause, the principal’s son, told the News-Record via email. “Although I’ve been a Maplewood resident for 17 years, I grew up in East Windsor and, for 21 years, my dad dealt with a two-hour round-trip commute because he loved his school, staff and kids so much.
“Because we’d have different school breaks, I’d often come up to spend the day when he was at South Mountain Elementary,” he continued. “I’d walk around the hallways as an 8- or 9-year-old just waiting for a teacher to say, ‘Shouldn’t you be in class?’ to which I’d proudly retort: ‘I’m Mr. Krause’s son!’”
But Michael Krause wasn’t the only one who saw his father as a formative figure in his life. He recalls living in Maplewood with his parents for a short time in 2004: “Even though he hadn’t been in the district for over a decade, he couldn’t walk in Maplewood Village without being stopped by numerous former students and parents — and he still remembered everyone’s name and face, even decades later.”
Similarly, Edmund Krause’s name and face is one that will be remembered for a long time, thanks to his generous and whimsical nature.
Joanne Goldberg got to know Krause both as a student and as a parent. In the late 1970s and early 1980s, Goldberg benefited from Principal Krause’s guidance at South Mountain School.
“He had a huge presence in the building. He knew every student, every parent and every sibling by name,” Goldberg told the News-Record via email, recalling that Krause always remembered she had a brother named Jon. “When I think of him, I think of his strength, his laugh and his warmth.”
With fond memories of working with him on the school play, Goldberg was thrilled to see that he was back at South Mountain, where her daughter would be heading the following school year, as interim principal in the mid-2000s.
“I decided to drop in on him at the school and reintroduce myself,” Goldberg said. “As I entered the building, I was thinking to myself how I might reintroduce myself — remind him of who I was. It was so many years later and he had worked with hundreds, maybe thousands, of students in his career at that point. As I walked into the main office, he was walking toward me. Before I even had a chance to say hello, a huge smile came across his face. He said, ‘Joanne! How are you? How is Jon? How are your folks?’
“That was Mr. Krause,” she continued. “Every family became a part of his. He never forgot us. And we never forgot him. He will remain warmly in our memories.”
And Edmund Krause left just as large an impression on his teachers, among them Deborah Charles, who began substitute teaching under him before he gave her a full-time job.
“He was the funniest guy I ever knew. He was a father figure to all the children and a mentor to all the teachers,” Charles told the News-Record in a phone interview. “He was a teaching principal. He mentored all his teachers. He made the teacher I became for 26 years.”
Charles recalled how involved the principal was in the children’s education, as more than just an administrator.
“Ed stopped me one day and said, ‘Do me a favor. Stop by the fish market tomorrow morning before school and get a whole fish. I’ll be up to see you about 10 o’clock,’” Charles said, remembering when she was a substitute second-grade teacher. Well, she got the fish and, sure enough, at 10 a.m., the principal entered the classroom, had the students crowd around and gave them a lesson on how fish breathe through their gills. “He was incredible. He turned to the kids. ‘You got it?’ They nodded. They all loved it. He turned to me. ‘Deborah, you got it?’ I said, ‘Yes, Ed, I got it.’ And he walked out.”
This wasn’t the only memorable experience Charles had with Edmund Krause in her classroom. She will never forget the conversation they had when, in her first year of full-time teaching, he came to question her about her filled-out supply form.
“Deborah, do you realize you ordered a gross of chalk?” he had said to her. After replying yes, Krause proceeded to tell her that a gross of chalk is quite a lot of chalk. He told her: “You will have this chalk until the day you retire.” Nevertheless, he just smiled and let her order the chalk.
According to Charles, she just recently retired and she still has the last piece of chalk from that initial order.
She also fondly remembers Edmund Krause’s joke assemblies, during which he would gather all the students and have them take the stage to tell jokes. During this time, he would let the teachers have an early lunch and he would watch the students.
“Mr. Krause was theatrical, both in his personal life and with his students,” Nancy Chiller Janow, whose children benefited from Krause’s kindness, told the News-Record via email. “Joke assemblies required each student to get on the stage in the combo library-cafeteria and tell him a joke. Now this sounds like a simple thing but for many 5- to 7-year-olds, this was a terrifying event. But he gently got them to learn how to address a group of their peers and have ‘stage presence,’ a valuable lesson for the future. My kids started out hiding when called up to do so, but, by the next year, had the confidence to entertain their classmates — and come home and continue to tell riddles and jokes and even create some silly jokes of their own.”
Janow met Principal Krause when she dropped her son off at Marshall in 1987. She was worried that he might be too young for school but, recognizing her hesitancy, he pulled her into his office and spoke with her, helping her feel calm, relaxed and confident in her decision to bring her son to school.
Janow also recalls how comforting he was to her when her stepfather died, explaining that his “compassion for his students extended to their moms as well.”
“He cared for each of his students and, now as adults, I know my 30-something kids, Dan and Suzanne, are both heartbroken at his passing,” Janow said. “He knew every child’s — and their parents’ — names within the first week of school and I bet he never forgot them. I know that not one child or adult he ever dealt with forgot him.”
Former South Mountain PTA President Sue Maybaum explained that Edmund Krause didn’t just touch a few lives, he touched every life. She recalled that, when the Board of Education was considered letting him go, she and her PTA board called for a meeting with the BOE — a meeting to which approximately 600 people attended, all of whom supported the principal. As a result, he didn’t go anywhere.
“As a principal and a kind human being, there was no better. His support for his staff was memorable. And the support he received in return was overwhelming,” Maybaum told the News-Record via email. “It was a genuine love affair between Ed Krause, his teachers, staff, the pupils and the parents.
“I know the parents and the children from back then will never forget the wonderful times we had and the wonderful atmosphere created by Ed Krause,” she continued. “His memory will live on.”
And while Edmund Krause had a deep impact on the lives of those who knew him, he was the first to admit that they had impacted him as well.
Charles recalled being at the Maplewood Country Club with him celebrating a teacher’s retirement when a former student approached. The student was shocked that the principal remembered him and, with tears in his eyes, said: “You changed my life.”
According to Charles, “Ed turned to me afterward and said, “Deborah, didn’t we choose the most perfect profession?’”
Edmund Krause is survived by his wife of 50 years, Anne, of Somerset; son Eric and wife, Susan, of East Windsor; son Michael and wife, Karen, of Maplewood; daughter Julia of New York; and daughter Stephanie and husband, Phil, of Brooklyn. Krause is also survived by six grandchildren and predeceased by his brother, Rabbi Jay Krause of San Francisco.