Warren (Renny) Gwydir Kraft Jr., who finished his fourth year at the University of Richmond in May, died in a car accident near campus in the early hours of Saturday, June 15. He was 23 years old.
Henrico County police responded to a call at 2:30 a.m. on the Westham Parkway, just north of the intersection with Pinetree Road, according to a WRIC Richmond news report. The 2014 Mazda sedan that Kraft was in was reported to have been traveling at high speeds, veered out of control and struck a tree. Kraft and another occupant, Michael J. Marks, of Ellicott City, Md., were ejected from the car and pronounced dead at the scene, according to the report. A third occupant, who managed to notify police, was injured as well.
Kraft was scheduled to graduate in August with a major in rhetoric and communications studies and a minor in French. He was a member of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity and played for the men’s varsity club lacrosse team. He transferred to Richmond in 2011 after previously attending McDaniel College in Westminster, Md. Kraft’s brother, Bob, currently attends Richmond.
Kraft was from Cold Spring Harbor, N.Y. A funeral was held at his family’s home on June 21. An on-campus memorial service in Kraft’s honor is currently being planned for this semester, the Rev. Craig Kocher said.
Andy First, one of Kraft’s roommates last year and fraternity brother, spoke at Kraft’s funeral along with several others of Kraft’s friends. Everyone who attended the service was asked to wear bright colored clothing, as opposed to the standard black, because of Kraft’s signature colorful wardrobe, First said.
“I think it speaks to his character and his warm and welcoming personality that so many of us counted Renny as one of our closest friends so soon after meeting him,” First said.
Kraft embraced the idea of travel and adventure, Hilary Raymond, a former French professor at Richmond, said. Raymond was the director of a five-week summer trip in La Rochelle, France that Kraft went on two summers ago. Raymond said that although Kraft was not the loudest member of the group, he still made an impression, and people remembered him for his sense of style.
“I’ll always remember what a dapper figure he made in his royal blue blazer and straw hat, with his bright blue eyes and blond hair,” Raymond said.
Kraft’s roommate on the trip, Marty Berkowitz, said their host family’s house was not in the best location, but Kraft always managed to make the best of it. “He was just the happiest kid, and he would still go out of his way to do fun things,” he said.
Jane Karpinskaia, another member of the trip, echoed Raymond in saying Kraft had left a mark on them all.
“He just knew how to light up a room,” she said. “He really was just a kid at heart.”
The university and SAE are working together to make a donation to the school in Kraft’s honor, First said.
The gift will be displayed on the lacrosse field and will be unveiled during family weekend.
Contact reporter Renee Ruggeri at firstname.lastname@example.org