Remembering Caroline C. Cram (1922-2021)

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Cram Caroline

We are sad to report that Caroline Cram, widow of Professor Donald Cram, and longtime supporter of the department, passed away on March 12, 2021. 

At the age of 79, Caroline married Professor Donald J. Cram, a Nobel Prize-winning chemist who taught and conducted research at UCLA for more than 50 years. They were together until his death in 2001. After his death, an endowment was established in Cram’s memory and it began sponsoring departmental events. Professor Patrick Harran, the first Donald J. Cram Chair in Organic Chemistry, established and hosts the Cram Lectureship, inviting internationally renowned scientists to meet with the faculty and students in the UCLA Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry. 

From Caroline Cram’s Obituary from The Desert Sun

Palm Desert – (1922-2021) Our beloved Caroline passed away peacefully on March 12, 2021 in her private casita at the Carlotta in Palm Desert. Caroline was born in Aurora, Nebraska on December 3, 1922. During the war years, Caroline perfected her secretarial skills working on various military bases in the Midwest. 

After the war, a random job application led her to be employed at Capitol Records in Los Angeles and she went on to spend over 20 years as an executive secretary at both Capitol Records and Columbia Records in New York City.

In 1964, after the death of his first wife, Hal Cook married Caroline and she became mother to his two surviving sons. During the 37 years of her marriage to Hal, Caroline performed her family obligations while also functioning in many capacities in the entertainment industry. Both Hal and Caroline found their greatest pleasure when the couple took early retirement and moved to Orcas Island, Washington in 1972. The couple spent 20 wonderful years exploring the beauty of the northwest and snow birding back and forth to Palm Desert. In 1992, Caroline’s husband suffered a heart attack and stroke on Orcas Island and they were forced to permanently move to Palm Desert for health reasons. Caroline became an avid golfer and devoted care giver to Hal and the couple lived happily at Ironwood until Hal’s death in 2001.

Since she was only 79 years old and still young at heart, Caroline eventually began a romance with a Palm Desert neighbor and soon remarried and became Mrs. Donald Cram. This new relationship burned bright but ended much too soon when her second husband died suddenly in June of 2001. Caroline then lived in several locations in Palm Desert before moving to the Fountains at the Carlotta in 2010 where she enjoyed a quiet life for her final eleven years.

Caroline is survived by her younger brother Don Collit and her two adopted sons, James and Richard and their four children and six grandchildren. There are plans for a family memorial at a later date but current covid restrictions dictate that Caroline will be quietly cremated at Forest Lawn Mortuary later in the week. As one of Caroline’s last wishes, her ashes will be transported and scattered on her beloved Orcas Island in Washington state.


Penny Jennings, UCLA Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry,