David N. Krem, 96; businessman, past president of B’nai El, Chautauqua

David N. Krem

BY ROBERT A. COHN, Editor-in-Chief Emeritus

David N. Krem, co-founder of the Reliable Finishing Co., whose many Jewish community activities included being a past president of Congregation B’nai El and the National Federation of Temple Brotherhoods, died Sunday, Oct. 15 at the Mari de Villa assisted living facility in Chesterfield. He was 96 and had been in declining health in recent weeks, family members. 

“David died peacefully, surrounded by family and friends,” his nephew, Mike Krem, told the Jewish Light.

David Norman Krem was born in St. Louis on March 19, 1920, the son of Morris (Maurice) and Bessie DeWoskin Krem. Morris died in 1924, when David was 4 years old. His mother later married Ben Rudolph. 

Mr. Krem attended Blewett High School and St. Louis University, and later served in the U.S. Army. He co-founded the Reliance Finishing Co., which specialized in painting metal parts for vending machines and other metallic products.

“David operated a large plant on Rutger Ave. near St. Louis University for many years before he retired. As with all of his activities he was very dedicated to the work and the quality of its products,” Mike Krem said.

In addition to his business, Mr. Krem was very devoted to Jewish education and other Jewish institutions and organizations. During the 1980s, he served as president of the B’nai El Brotherhood, and later president of Congregation B’nai El. He later affiliated with Temple Israel.

Starting in 1980, Mr. Krem served for several years as president of the National Federation of Temple Brotherhoods and of the Jewish Chautauqua Society (JCS). JCS, founded in 1893, became the oldest and largest world body aimed at teaching Judaism on the college and university level, funding 165 resident lectureships, including an annual lecture at Temple Israel in St. Louis.

Mr. Krem’s wife of 74 years, Bebe Wool Krem, died in February 2016. He is survived by his son Neal Krem (Charleen). He was preceded in death by his son Barry Z. Krem (Christine) and brothers Nathan Krem and Sam Krem. Also surviving are seven grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren.

Funeral services were held last Thursday in the May Chapel  at Temple Israel, where Rabbi Amy Feder officiated. Feder spoke of Mr. Krem’s enthusiasm for the temple and Jewish education, and his devotion to his late wife and to his family.  She noted that it was fitting that the service was taking place during the holiday of Sukkot, which reminds us of both the preciousness and beauty of life as well as its fragility.

“When his beloved wife Bebe passed away, nothing could fill that hole in his life, and in recent weeks he knew his time had come.  We know that his memory will be a blessing in death as it was in life,” she said.

Burial with military honors was at the United Hebrew Cemetery, 7855 Canton Ave. Memorial Contributions preferred to Hadassah Medical Center, Donors Department, POB 12000, Jerusalem, 91120, Israel.