Robert Melvin Kraft ("Bob", "Skeeball", "Skee"), 88, died Monday morning surrounded by his family. He is survived by his wife, Jean and adult children Dennis R. Kraft (Pam), of Charlestown, John A. Kraft (Andrea) of Lanesville, Kerry E. Gerber (Jim) of New Albany, Kelly J. Banks (Chuck) of Clarksville, step-children, Lisa Ruddell (Don) of The Villages, Florida, and Carol Bell (Jimmy) of New Albany. He is also survived by grandchildren, Krishana Kraft, Kevin Kraft (Ashley), Alexis R. Rodmaker (Tim), Charlanne K. Tunison (Chad), Tristan McGill (Frank Litz), Caitlin Fellows (Nick), Brendan Jones (Katie), Collin Jones (Jenna), Kyle Banks (Erin), Sean Banks (Katy), Derek Ruddell (Allie), Adam Ruddell (Ellie), Colin Bell (Morgan) and Jamie Bell. He is also survived by 14 great grandchildren and his brother, Paul L. Kraft (Nancy) of Clarksville, who was also his former business partner.
Bob and his brother Paul started into the service station business at the corner of Randolph and Harrison Avenues in Clarksville in 1957, before anyone had heard of self service, pump-your-own gas. Bob was the face and personality of the business until he retired in 1995. After first opening in a small building with no inside service bay, later, due to their growth and success, Kraft Marathon moved to 600 North Clark Boulevard where it remained until it was closed due to the retirement of the partners. During their business endeavor Don Tetley joined Bob and Paul as a partner; at one time they operated three Marathon Service (not just gas) Stations in Clarksville and a thriving 24 hour wrecker service.
Bob was a 1947 graduate of New Albany High School, and remained a life long Bulldog fan. He served on the reunion committee each year. As his class size diminished, the class would meet more regularly for meals and fellowship. He served in the United States Air Force and was stationed at Lackland Air Force Base. Bob was a life-long member of Silver Street United Methodist Church (Formerly the First Evangelical United Brethren Church) at the corner of Silver and Elm Street, New Albany, where he participated from his youth in Boy Scouts and as a young adult in slow pitch softball. He also sang in the choir for many years and served as a lay minister. He currently was attending Main Street United Methodist Church with his wife.
Bob was a founding member of the Clarksville Kiwanis and continued to be an active member until his sudden death on Monday morning. He served all offices of the local club, including several stints as president over five decades, and served as Lt. Governor of the Scenic Hills Division. He was a member of DePauw Masonic Lodge 338 New Albany, and the Scottish Rite Valley of Indianapolis.
When the McCulloch Volunteer Fire Department was started Bob was also a founding member, living directly across the street on Hale Road, where he participated in helping to build the original building. Bob continued to serve MVFD until it became part of the Clarksville Fire Department, and maintained life membership in the McCulloch Association. Bob's other civic activities included serving as an Auxillary Police Officer for the Town of Clarksville where he continued to work Thunder Over Louisville each year, and served one term as a Clarksville Town Council member.
Bob, or to many riders of his school bus routes, "Mr. Bob", drove a Greater Clark County School Bus route into his 80's and touched the lives of many young students.
Predeceasing him were his parents, Melvin John Kraft and Edna Frederick Kraft, his first wife Patricia L. (Salmon) Kraft, his sister Jane Kraft Ritchie, and a stillborn son, David Paul Kraft.
Funeral Services will be held at 11:00 AM on Thursday, March 29, 2018 at the Main Street United Methodist Church, 516 West Main Street, New Albany, with burial in Kraft-Graceland Memorial Park in New Albany. Visitation will be from 12:00 to 7:00 on Wednesday, at Chapman Funeral Home, 431 West Harrison Ave., Clarksville, and from 9:00 to 11:00 Thursday at the Main Street UMC. Expressions of Sympathy may be made in the form of contributions to Silver Street United Methodist Church, Main Street United Methodist Church, or the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Online condolences at www.chapmanfuneralhome.net