Jack Craemer, who led the Marin Independent Journal during the 1950s, ‘60s and ‘70s, was known across the state as a champion of the public’s right to know.
“He became addicted to the freedom of information,” said former state Assemblyman Bill Bagley. “Today’s vibrant Marin is Jack Craemer’s legacy. He was Mr. Marin. He loved the county; he both protected and shaped it.”
Craemer, who grew up in the newspaper business, joined the IJ in 1947. His father, Justus F. Craemer, and Roy A. Brown bought the San Rafael Daily Independent in 1937. In 1948 they merged it with the Marin Journal to form today’s newspaper. Jack Craemer became managing editor in 1949 and co-publisher and editor in 1966. He shared the co-publisher’s job with Wishard Brown, Roy A. Brown’s son.
He retired in 1980 when he and Wishard Brown sold the IJ to the Gannett newspaper chain. In 2000 the newspaper was acquired by MediaNews Group of Denver.
Craemer’s decisions helped shape Marin County today.
His son, Jeff Craemer of San Rafael, remembered when his father and a county supervisor decided in 1961 the IJ would conduct a straw poll of readers on completing construction of the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Civic Center, now a national landmark. Supervisors had decided to halt the controversial building, but public support in the poll was overwhelming.
Craemer was born Feb. 8, 1917, in Santa Ana and graduated from Stanford University in 1939 with a degree in economics.
His journalism career began in 1940 at the Holtville Tribune in Imperial County.
During World War II he served in field artillery in the Aleutians, New Caledonia and Saipan and was awarded a Bronze Star. He also served on the staff of Yank magazine, a military publication, and as a member of the Army’s public information staff.
After the war he reported for the Turlock Daily Journal before joining the San Rafael Daily Independent.
Craemer was a member of the American Society of Newspaper Editors, a director and past chairman of the California Newspaper Publishers Association, a former president of the Marin County Chamber of Commerce, and a member of numerous civic groups.
In 1967 he was named “Publisher of the Year” by the California Press Association, receiving the award named after his father.
Craemer and his wife, Jean, lived in Greenbrae for many years, and then moved to San Rafael. He died of a stroke in March 2011 at his San Rafael home.