Skiing cartoonist

Passing Date: 
Saturday, July 29, 2017

Bob Cram, skiing cartoonist

Perhaps it was said best in the Seattle Times: “Northwest ski pioneer, commercial artist, television personality and loyal Seattleite.”  That was Bob Cram, born Nov. 25, 1925, and passing away unexpectedly in his sleep July 29, 2017.

The urge to draw came early.  Age 8.  And the first tries at skiing came soon after, just before World War II – with Bob writing later, “ … to make four turns in a row without canning up was a major achievement.”  Both pursuits ultimately brought rewards, but not before the U.S. Army. That required, among other things, emergency evacuation down a cargo net from a torpedoed troopship en route from England to Cherbourg, France.  Later, back in Seattle, came education to become a commercial artist, plus more skiing -- with technique enhanced by a post-war year in Austria before the Army shipped him home.  

Skiing on a Cascade Mountains rope tow hill led to meeting his future wife, Martha; to a four-year cross-country courtship; to a 1952 wedding; and to three children.

Advertising illustrations and cartooning were mainstays for Bob, and, starting in 1963, a part-time gig made him the “cartooning weatherman” for NBC’s Seattle TV affiliate.  In turn, he hosted nearly 100 fun-filled half-hour “Ski-Nanny” shows on the same station, introducing “Homer Crashenburn” and getting a chance to make turns with the likes of Sailer, Eriksen and Kidd.

Through all that, Bob had become an accomplished skier and a long-time  instructor for Buzz Fiorini, with the sort of ability needed to log up to tens of thousands of vertical feet of heli powder skiing a day in the Monashees.  Closely related to those experiences and spanning six decades, Bob’s cartooning outlook became familiar throughout the ski world via single drawings and “That’s Ski Life” cartoon strips in national magazines and occasional books.  Cartoons, backed by Bob’s lively mind, did the trick – turning an oft-repeated line like “You should’a been here yesterday!” into a knowing laugh.

His work has been noted as a fitting visual history of a transformative ski era, and Bob was singled out by ISHA in 2012 for a Lifetime Achievement Award for Illustrated Ski Humor, and he became a 2004 inductee into the Northwest Ski Hall of Fame.

Bob is survived by three children, Robin Cram Hall (Tim), Sara Cram (Michael), and Doug Cram (Lisa), and five grandchildren. Wife Martha passed away in July 2015.


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