William James Kraus Jr.
Longtime Grosse Pointe Woods resident William James Kraus Jr., 68, died Sunday, September 16, 2018 at home with his family.
Born April 6, 1950, in Detroit, Michigan to William Sr. and Gloria (Bluhm) Kraus, William grew up in Grosse Pointe Woods and Grayling, Michigan, having attended Marris Preparatory in Bedford, Massachusetts and Grayling High School, Grayling, Michigan.
As a young man, William was a member of the National Ski Patrol, a varsity athlete, an actor and singer, and a musician.
His high school band, the Defenders, was under appreciated by critics of the era.
He earned a Bachelor of Science degree in 1972 from Michigan State University and a Master of Science in Management (summa cum laude) from Walsh College in 2000.
He met his wife Rebecca while a student at Michigan State, where he was described by her as “insanely good looking.”
Through the course of his career, he worked in both telecommunications and finance, retiring as a Certified Financial Planner in 2010.
William loved motorcycling, and was accomplished in long-distance riding.
He twice completed the Iron Butt Rally—an annual competitive endurance event in which finishers travel more than 11,000 miles in 11 days—and was a Gold Medal winner in that event in 1997.
Among other things, William once rode his motorcycle more than 1,500 miles in 24 hours, rode from coast-to-coast in less than 50 hours, and completed multiple Four Corners Tours travelling to the outermost edges of the continental United States.
There is a paver in Madawaska, Maine commemorating his August 2011 arrival to that town along with Hurricane Irene.
He shared his passion with his family and others, and completed motorcycle trips with his son around the Great Lakes, rode with him from Chicago to California in the Summer of 2015, and regularly met him for lunches in Kalamazoo.
He taught thousands how to ride motorcycles as a certified Motorcycle Safety Instructor.
William was a gifted musician, and could play any instrument put in his hands.
Later in life, he immersed himself in the study and practice of bass guitar.
He also travelled the world with Rebecca, ate at some of the finest restaurants with his children in Chicago (although he generally preferred cheese omelets), and studied marksmanship.
He became a lifelong fan of the University of Michigan after largely financing his son’s undergraduate and law school education there.
At other times in life, he dabbled in drag racing, ham radio and bodybuilding.
He was also nationally recognized in the training and handling of Lhasa Apsos, winning numerous Best in Show titles while achieving Registered Merit Kennel status with over 35 American and Canadian championship dogs.
Time and again, William would dive into a new passion, participate in that activity at the highest level, and then move on to his next adventure.
William is survived by his best friend Rebecca, his wife of 45 years; son, William James (Sarah) granddaughter, Mackenzie Elizabeth; brothers, Richard (Mindy) and Jim (Amy); and numerous nieces and nephews.
Donations may be made to The American Cancer Society (https://donate3.cancer.org/) lung cancer research, in lieu of flowers.