Michael Kraynak, Jr., a longtime resident of Ridgewood, New Jersey, and most recently of Wyckoff, passed away peacefully on the morning of May 23 in his home, with his loving wife, Patricia, at his side. They were to celebrate their 65th wedding anniversary on June 6 of this year.
Michael––aka Mike, or the Admiral, or Captain to his friends and family––had a long and prestigious career in private banking as a Partner at Brown Brothers Harriman & Co. in New York City. He began his tenure at the firm in 1957, making Partner in 1978, where he was in charge of international investment management. From 1990-1995, Michael was Partner in charge of global investment policy and strategy for equity and balanced accounts. Following his retirement as a full-time partner in 1995, he remained involved with the firm as Member of the BBH Trust Company Investment Committee, as well as ancillary organizations––including as Chairman of the American Australian Association, and Board member at the Swiss Helvetia Fund––for many years. He remained a limited partner until his death.
Michael Kraynak, Jr., was born in Cleveland, Ohio December 16, 1930, to the late Anna Haladaj and Michael Kraynak. A graduate of Yale College (class of 1952) where he earned a degree in history, he received a Masters degree in International Relations at Yale’s Graduate School of International Affairs in 1953. His attachment to his alma mater––with fond recollections of Vincent Scully’s rousing architectural history lectures, which stimulated a lifetime interest in the subject––remained through his ongoing association with the Advisory Council of Yale Alumni of Bergen County. In 1954, as a recent graduate, he joined the United States Navy, where he was on active duty until 1957, serving on aircraft carriers: the USS Champlain, USS Randolph, and USS Saratoga. He joined the Naval Reserves in 1959 and served until 1987, during which time he worked in various intelligence capacities and achieved the rank of Captain. In 1987, he transitioned to the Retired Reserves; he was also a member of the Naval War College Foundation and the Naval Institute.
During his lifetime, Michael was active in all dimensions of civic and business life, and was involved in numerous charities. His experiences seeing extreme poverty while on active duty in the Navy had a particularly lasting impact, motivating his later involvement with the Haitian-based charity, Free the Kids: Project Hope, which was founded by a former Navy chaplain. Among the other organizations to which he belonged and positions held, were: Director and President of the Robert Bruner Foundation; Board member and secretary of Ridgewood Senior Citizens Housing Corporation (Ridgecrest); Advisory Council of The Hermitage Museum; member of The Knights of Malta; member of The Valley Hospital Foundation; and member of a local men’s group, Stable Hands. Quick to debate on any topic, as his many interlocutors (fondly) over the years can attest, his intellectual interests were rivaled by his athletic ones; as an avid tennis player, he was for many years a member (and former treasurer) of the Upper Ridgewood Tennis Club, and the Quonochontaug Tennis Club near his family’s beach home in Rhode Island. A life-long student of history, Mike enjoyed extensive travels throughout his life for work and pleasure, testimony to which is the hundreds of postcards sent to family over the years.
In addition to Patricia, Michael is survived by his children: Pamela Kraynak, of Burlington Vermont; Michael Kraynak III, of Wickford, Rhode Island; Evelyn Kraynak of Oakland, NJ; and Janet Kraynak of Brooklyn, NY. He also leaves behind three grandsons, Jonah Kraynak, Jared Deibe, and Giulio Basilico, as well as his son-in-law, Stefano Basilico, and daughter-in-law, Margaret Scully. Friends and associates are welcome to remember Michael at the wake Tuesday, May 29, from 4-8pm at Feeney Funeral Home in Ridgewood, NJ. Funeral services are taking place at 10:00 am on Wednesday, May 30 at Mount Carmel Church, also in Ridgewood. For those who would like to contribute a lasting memory, donations can be made to Yale University FBO the Michael Kraynak Scholarship Fund (Attn: Reginald Solomon, 157 Church Street, New Haven, CT 06510); or In Memory of Michael Kraynak, Friends of the Hermitage, The Hermitage Museum, 335 No. Franklin Tpke, Ho-Ho-Kus, NJ 07423, https://thehermitage.ejoinme.org/MyPages/DonationPage/tabid/961792/Default.aspx)