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Bruce Kramer, former St. Thomas dean who chronicled his battle with ALS, dies

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Former St. Thomas dean Bruce Kramer died Monday at his home in Hopkins, surrounded by family after a four-year battle with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig's disease.

He was 59.

Kramer was the former dean of the University of St. Thomas College of Education, Leadership and Counseling, which was position he stayed in until he took a leave of absence in October 2012, according to the St. Thomas Newsroom.

Kramer's diagnosis in December 2010 came as a shock, but he decided to share his story and continued speaking engagements about ALS.

Kramer's neurodegenerative condition was the subject of an MPR documentary series "Living with ALS." In 35 installments, Kramer gave MPR access to his life. He also kept a blog tracking his experience.

The project turned into a recently published book "We Know How This Ends: Living While Dying," which Kramer co-authored with MPR's Cathy Wurzer. The Star Tribune reviewed the book this weekend.

Wurzer was present when he died.

"Bruce means the world to me," Wurzer told MPR. "He is a cherished friend, and my life isn't the same thanks to him. ... This series and our friendship is a gift I'll always treasure."

MPR reports the family asked Wurzer to give the eulogy.

Kramer's history

The Pioneer Press reports Kramer came from a family of Missouri educators. He earned his undergrad and masters degrees from Ball State University in Indiana. He worked as a choir director and teacher, then began teaching abroad in Norway. He later became a principal in Egypt, followed by a principal position in Thailand.

He joined St. Thomas in 1996, earned his doctorate from Purdue University in 2003 and took over as dean of the college in 2009.

The family plans to go ahead with the book launch Wednesday at St. Thomas - an event Kramer was hoping to attend. The free event is at 7 p.m. in O'Shaughnessy Educational Center auditorium. Viewing rooms will be set up for people to listen and watch.

A memorial service is scheduled for 10:30 a.m. April 11 at Christ Presbyterian Church in Edina.

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